Publications & Posters

Longitudinal Changes In Resting State Networks In Early Presymptomatic Carriers Of C9ORF72 Expansions


Shoukry RS, Waugh R, Bartlett D, Raitcheva D and Floeter MK.

Neuroimage Clin. 2020 Jul 20;28:102354



Previous cross-sectional imaging studies found differences in brain structure and in resting state networks between presymptomatic carriers of mutations in C9orf72 (C9+) and healthy controls. We carried out a prospective longitudinal study of clinical and resting state functional imaging in a cohort of 15 presymptomatic C9+ carriers to determine whether differences in resting state connectivity prior to developing symptoms reflect static developmental differences or ongoing low-grade degenerative changes. Presymptomatic C9+ carriers were scanned at baseline with follow-up scanning at 6- and 18-months and compared to a cohort of 14 healthy controls scanned longitudinally. Resting state networks associated with manifest disease were visualized by comparing 27 symptomatic C9+ carriers to 34 healthy controls. Motor, salience, thalamic, and speech production networks were visualized using a seed-based analysis. Neurofilament light chain was measured in serum obtained at the time of the scans. Neither clinical measures of motor, cognitive, and behavioral function nor neurofilament levels changed over follow-up in presymptomatic C9+ carriers. In thalamic networks, there was a reduction in connectivity in presymptomatic carriers at all timepoints with a constant difference compared to healthy controls. In contrast, precuneus/posterior cingulate regions exhibited declining functional connectivity compared to controls over the 18-month follow-up, particularly in motor networks. These were regions that also exhibited reduced functional connectivity in symptomatic C9+ carriers. Reduced connectivity over time also occurred in small regions of frontal and temporal cortex within salience and thalamic networks in presymptomatic C9+ carriers. A few areas of increased connectivity occurred, including cortex near the motor seed and within the speech production network. Overall, changes in functional connectivity over time favor the explanation of ongoing low-grade alterations in presymptomatic C9+ carriers in most networks, with the exception of thalamic networks where functional connectivity reductions were stable over time. The loss of connectivity to parietal cortex regions in several different networks may be a distinct feature of C9orf72-related degeneration. Longitudinal studies of carriers who phenoconvert will be important to determine the prognostic significance of presymptomatic functional connectivity alterations.