Characterization of Functional and Structural Integrity in Experimental Focal Epilepsy: Reduced Network Efficiency Coincides with White Matter Changes

Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 07/2012; 7(7):e39078. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039078
Source: PubMed


Although focal epilepsies are increasingly recognized to affect multiple and remote neural systems, the underlying spatiotemporal pattern and the relationships between recurrent spontaneous seizures, global functional connectivity, and structural integrity remain largely unknown.
Here we utilized serial resting-state functional MRI, graph-theoretical analysis of complex brain networks and diffusion tensor imaging to characterize the evolution of global network topology, functional connectivity and structural changes in the interictal brain in relation to focal epilepsy in a rat model. Epileptic networks exhibited a more regular functional topology than controls, indicated by a significant increase in shortest path length and clustering coefficient. Interhemispheric functional connectivity in epileptic brains decreased, while intrahemispheric functional connectivity increased. Widespread reductions of fractional anisotropy were found in white matter regions not restricted to the vicinity of the epileptic focus, including the corpus callosum.
Our longitudinal study on the pathogenesis of network dynamics in epileptic brains reveals that, despite the locality of the epileptogenic area, epileptic brains differ in their global network topology, connectivity and structural integrity from healthy brains.

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