Publications by authors named "Nuria Bargallo"

254 Publications

Perinatal post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the central nervous system (CNS): a pictorial review.

Insights Imaging 2021 Jul 22;12(1):104. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Radiology Department, CDIC, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, C/Villarroel no. 170, 08036, Barcelona, Spain.

Central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities cause approximately 32-37.7% of terminations of pregnancy (TOP). Autopsy is currently the gold standard for assessing dead foetuses and stillborn. However, it has limitations and is sometimes subject to parental rejection. Recent studies have described post-mortem foetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an alternative and even complementary to autopsy for CNS assessment. Radiologists now play a key role in the evaluation of perinatal deaths. Assessment of foetal CNS abnormalities is difficult, and interpretation of foetal studies requires familiarisation with normal and abnormal findings in post-mortem MRI studies as well as the strengths and limitations of the imaging studies. The purpose of this pictorial review is to report our experience in the post-mortem MRI evaluation of the CNS system, including a description of the protocol used, normal CNS findings related to post-mortem status, abnormal CNS findings in our sample, and the correlation of these findings with histopathological results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13244-021-01051-0DOI Listing
July 2021

How to inject ictal SPECT? From manual to automated injection.

Epilepsy Res 2021 Sep 24;175:106691. Epub 2021 Jun 24.

Clinical Institute of Neurosciences, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Successful surgery depends on the accurate localization of epileptogenic zone before surgery. Ictal SPECT is the only imaging modality that allows identification of the ictal onset zone by measuring the regional cerebral blood flow at the time of injection. The main limitation of ictal SPECT in epilepsy is the complex methodology of the tracer injection during a seizure. To overcome this limitation, we present the main features of the first automated injector for ictal SPECT (epijet, LemerPax; La Chapelle -sur-Erdre; France). In this study we compared traditional manual injection with automated injection for ictal SPECT in 122 patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Methods: The study included 55 consecutive prospective patients with drug-resistant epilepsy undergoing injection with the automated injector. The control group was our retrospective database of a historic pool of 67 patients, injected manually from 2014 to 2016. Calculated annual exposure/radioactive dose for operators was measured. Injection time, seizure focus localization with ictal SPECT, as well as repeated hospitalizations related to inconclusive findings of the SPECT were compared in these two groups of patients.

Results: There were no differences in the average injection time with epijet (13 s) compared with the traditional manual injection (14 s). The seizure focus was successfully localized with ictal SPECT with epijet in 44/55 (80 %) patients and with manual injection in 46/67 (68 %) patients (p = 0.097). Repeated studies were required in 9/67 (23 %) patients in the manual injection group compared to 3 patients (7%) in the epijet group (p = 0.141). Calculated annual exposure/dose for operators of 0.39 mSv/year and administered dose error inferior to 5% are other advantages of epijet.

Conclusion: The first results using epijet are promising in adjustment of the injection dose, reducing the rate of radiation exposure for patients and nurses, maintaining the same injection time and allowing high SPECT accuracy. These preliminary results support the use of an automated injection system to inject radioactive ictal SPECT doses in epilepsy units.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2021.106691DOI Listing
September 2021

Functional brain changes associated with cognitive trajectories determine specific tDCS-induced effects among older adults.

J Neurosci Res 2021 May 28. Epub 2021 May 28.

Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

The combination of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can provide original data to investigate age-related brain changes. We examined neural activity modulations induced by two multifocal tDCS procedures based on two distinct montages fitting two N-back task-based fMRI patterns ("compensatory" and "maintenance") related to high working memory (WM) in a previous publication (Fernández-Cabello et al. Neurobiol Aging (2016);48:23-33). We included 24 participants classified as stable or decliners according to their 4-year WM trajectories following a retrospective longitudinal approach. Then, we studied longitudinal fMRI differences between groups (stable and decliners) and across multifocal tDCS montages ("compensatory" and "maintenance") applied using a single-blind sham-controlled cross-over design. Decliners evidenced over-activation of non-related WM areas after 4 years of follow-up. Focusing on tDCS effects, among the decliner group, the "compensatory"-tDCS montage reduced the activity over the posterior regions where these subjects showed longitudinal hyperactivation. These results reinforce the notion that tDCS effects are characterized by an activity reduction and might be more noticeable in compromised systems. Importantly, the data provide novel evidence that cognitive trajectories predict tDCS effects in older adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24849DOI Listing
May 2021

Volumetric and shape analysis of the hippocampus in temporal lobe epilepsy with GAD65 antibodies compared with non-immune epilepsy.

Sci Rep 2021 May 13;11(1):10199. Epub 2021 May 13.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Core Facility, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain.

Glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 antibodies (anti-GAD65) have been found in patients with late-onset chronic temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). No prior neuroimaging studies have addressed how they affect hippocampal volume and shape and how they relate to cognitive abnormalities. We aimed to investigate both brain structure and function in patients with isolated TLE and high anti-GAD65 levels (RIA ≥ 2000 U/ml) compared to 8 non-immune mesial TLE (niTLE) and 8 healthy controls (HC). Hippocampal subfield volume properties were correlated with the duration of the disease and cognitive test scores. The affected hippocampus of GAD-TLE patients showed no volume changes to matched HC whereas niTLE volumes were significantly smaller. Epilepsy duration in GAD-TLE patients correlated negatively with volumes in the presubiculum, subiculum, CA1, CA2-3, CA4, molecular layer and granule cell-molecular layer of the dentate nucleus. We found differences by advanced vertex-wise shape analysis in the anterior hippocampus of the left GAD-TLE compared to HC whereas left niTLE showed bilateral posterior hippocampus deformation. Verbal deficits were similar in GAD-TLE and niTLE but did not correlate to volume changes. These data might suggest a distinct expression of hippocampal structural and functional abnormalities based on the immune response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89010-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119423PMC
May 2021

Psychotic symptoms in drug resistant epilepsy patients after cortical stimulation.

Epilepsy Res 2021 Jul 2;173:106630. Epub 2021 Apr 2.

Epilepsy Program, Neurology Department, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08036, Spain; Clinical Institute of Neurosciences, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08036, Spain; Biomedical Research Institute August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08036, Spain.

Purpose: The use of invasive EEG (iEEG) recordings before epilepsy surgery has increased as more complex focal epilepsies are evaluated. Psychotic symptoms (PS) during iEEG have been scarcely reviewed. We aim to report our series of patients with psychotic symptoms (PS) brought about by cortical stimulation (CS) and to identify triggers.

Methods: Retrospective cohort of patients who underwent iEEG and CS. We report patients who developed delusional thinking and/or disorganized behaviour within 24 h after CS. Exclusion criteria were primary psychiatric disorders or absence of CS.

Results: We evaluated 32 (SEEG 23; subdural 9) patients with a median age of 38 years, 6 with PS. Patients underwent 2586 stimulations over 1130 contacts. Age at CS was significantly higher in patients with PS. Temporal lobe epilepsy was significantly more often documented in patients with PS (χ: 3.94; p< 0.05). We found no correlation between stimulation of the limbic system and development of psychosis. Four (66.7 %) patients were stimulated in the non-dominant limbic system and developed psychosis compared to 7 (27 %) who did not [χ2: 3.41; p= 0.06].Epilepsy duration was significantly higher in PS patients (p=0.002). Patients with history of postictal psychosis were twice more likely to experience PS(p=0.04).

Conclusions: PS may arise more frequently in patients with PIP history, older age and longer epilepsy duration. The neurobiology and physiology of psychosis, that may share common mechanisms with epilepsy, is yet to be identified but we hypothesize that it may be triggered by CS due to alteration of brain networks dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2021.106630DOI Listing
July 2021

Psychiatric disorders in patients with resistant temporal lobe epilepsy two years after undergoing elective surgery. A longitudinal study.

Epilepsy Behav 2021 05 5;118:107921. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona 08036, Spain; Clinical Institute of Neurosciences, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona 08036, Spain; Epilepsy Unit, Neurology Department, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona 08036, Spain; Biomedical Research Institute August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08036, Spain. Electronic address:

Purpose: Psychiatric morbidity in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is frequent and negatively affects patients' life quality. Surgery is the procedure of choice when treating seizures, although the effects on psychiatric disorders remain unclear. We evaluate the effect of surgery on psychiatric disorders in patients with TLE two years after the intervention, to then shed light on how these are related to anxiety and depression symptoms, and Interictal Dysphoric Disorder (IDD).

Methods: We included data from 65 patients with TLE whose psychiatric evaluations were performed according to DSM-IV criteria. Anxiety and depression symptoms were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) test.

Results: At 2-year follow-up, anxiety and depressive disorders decreased, and psychotic disorders augmented without statistical significance. Baseline psychiatric disorders predisposed to psychiatric pathology at 2-year follow-up and did not correlate with epilepsy outcome after surgery. Postoperative psychiatric disorders correlated with the seizure incidence two years after the intervention, suggesting that epilepsy and psychiatric disorders were associated in processes such as surgery. De novo psychiatric disorders represented 52% of postoperative psychiatric pathology, 62% being psychotic disorders. De novo psychiatric disorders became more frequent from the first year of surgery, occurring mainly in patients free of seizures. The HADS test scores and IDD correlated with psychiatric disorders at 2-year follow-up.

Conclusions: Baseline psychiatric disorders did not influence surgery outcome, but correlated with psychiatric disorders' prevalence two years after surgery. Despite not finding statistical significance, surgery reduced the prevalence of psychiatric disorders, and de novo psychiatric disorders were associated with an improvement in the epilepsy course at 2-year follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2021.107921DOI Listing
May 2021

Voxel-based morphometry for the evaluation of patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy with apparently normal MRI.

J Neuroimaging 2021 05 5;31(3):560-568. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Neurology Department, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

Background And Purpose: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is essential in the diagnosis of pharmacoresistant epilepsy (PRE), because patients with lesions detected by MRI have a better prognosis after surgery. Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) is one of the most frequent etiologies of PRE but can be difficult to identify by MRI. Voxel-based morphometric analysis programs, like the Morphometric Analysis Program (MAP), have been developed to help improve MRI detection. Our objective was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of MAP in patients with PRE and an apparently normal MRI.

Methods: We studied 70 patients with focal PRE and a nonlesional MRI. The 3DT1 sequence was processed with MAP, obtaining three z-score maps. Patients were classified as MAP+ if one or more z-score maps showed a suspicious area of brightness, and MAP- if the z-score maps did not show any suspicious areas. For MAP+ cases, a second-look MRI was performed with a dedicated inspection based on the MAP findings. The MAP results were correlated with the epileptogenic zone. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated.

Results: Thirty-one percent of patients were classified as MAP+ and 69% were MAP-. Results showed a sensitivity of 0.57, specificity of 0.8, PPV of 0.91, and NPV of 0.35. In 19% of patients, an FCD was found in the second-look MRI after MAP.

Conclusions: MAP was helpful in the detection of lesions in PRE patients with a nonlesional MRI, which could have important repercussions for the clinical management and postoperative prognosis of these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jon.12849DOI Listing
May 2021

White matter microstructure and its relation to clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder: findings from the ENIGMA OCD Working Group.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 17;11(1):173. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.

Microstructural alterations in cortico-subcortical connections are thought to be present in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, prior studies have yielded inconsistent findings, perhaps because small sample sizes provided insufficient power to detect subtle abnormalities. Here we investigated microstructural white matter alterations and their relation to clinical features in the largest dataset of adult and pediatric OCD to date. We analyzed diffusion tensor imaging metrics from 700 adult patients and 645 adult controls, as well as 174 pediatric patients and 144 pediatric controls across 19 sites participating in the ENIGMA OCD Working Group, in a cross-sectional case-control magnetic resonance study. We extracted measures of fractional anisotropy (FA) as main outcome, and mean diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and axial diffusivity as secondary outcomes for 25 white matter regions. We meta-analyzed patient-control group differences (Cohen's d) across sites, after adjusting for age and sex, and investigated associations with clinical characteristics. Adult OCD patients showed significant FA reduction in the sagittal stratum (d = -0.21, z = -3.21, p = 0.001) and posterior thalamic radiation (d = -0.26, z = -4.57, p < 0.0001). In the sagittal stratum, lower FA was associated with a younger age of onset (z = 2.71, p = 0.006), longer duration of illness (z = -2.086, p = 0.036), and a higher percentage of medicated patients in the cohorts studied (z = -1.98, p = 0.047). No significant association with symptom severity was found. Pediatric OCD patients did not show any detectable microstructural abnormalities compared to controls. Our findings of microstructural alterations in projection and association fibers to posterior brain regions in OCD are consistent with models emphasizing deficits in connectivity as an important feature of this disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01276-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7969744PMC
March 2021

Impaired Structural Connectivity in Parkinson's Disease Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Study Based on Probabilistic Tractography.

Brain Connect 2021 Jun 31;11(5):380-392. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Probabilistic tractography, in combination with graph theory, has been used to reconstruct the structural whole-brain connectome. Threshold-free network-based statistics (TFNBS) is a useful technique to study structural connectivity in neurodegenerative disorders; however, there are no previous studies using TFNBS in Parkinson's disease (PD) with and without mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Sixty-two PD patients, 27 of whom classified as PD-MCI, and 51 healthy controls (HC) underwent diffusion-weighted 3T magnetic resonance imaging. Probabilistic tractography, using FMRIB Software Library (FSL), was used to compute the number of streamlines (NOS) between regions. NOS matrices were used to find group differences with TFNBS, and to calculate global and local measures of network integrity using graph theory. A binominal logistic regression was then used to assess the discrimination between PD with and without MCI using non-overlapping significant tracts. Tract-based spatial statistics were also performed with FSL to study changes in fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity. PD-MCI showed 37 white matter connections with reduced connectivity strength compared with HC, mainly involving temporal/occipital regions. These were able to differentiate PD-MCI from PD without MCI with an area under the curve of 83-85%. PD without MCI showed disrupted connectivity in 18 connections involving frontal/temporal regions. No significant differences were found in graph measures. Only PD-MCI showed reduced FA compared with HC. TFNBS based on whole-brain probabilistic tractography can detect structural connectivity alterations in PD with and without MCI. Reduced structural connectivity in fronto-striatal and posterior cortico-cortical connections is associated with PD-MCI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/brain.2020.0939DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8215419PMC
June 2021

Cortical thickness across the lifespan: Data from 17,075 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 17. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroimaging, Departamento e Instituto de Psiquiatria, Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Delineating the association of age and cortical thickness in healthy individuals is critical given the association of cortical thickness with cognition and behavior. Previous research has shown that robust estimates of the association between age and brain morphometry require large-scale studies. In response, we used cross-sectional data from 17,075 individuals aged 3-90 years from the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to infer age-related changes in cortical thickness. We used fractional polynomial (FP) regression to quantify the association between age and cortical thickness, and we computed normalized growth centiles using the parametric Lambda, Mu, and Sigma method. Interindividual variability was estimated using meta-analysis and one-way analysis of variance. For most regions, their highest cortical thickness value was observed in childhood. Age and cortical thickness showed a negative association; the slope was steeper up to the third decade of life and more gradual thereafter; notable exceptions to this general pattern were entorhinal, temporopolar, and anterior cingulate cortices. Interindividual variability was largest in temporal and frontal regions across the lifespan. Age and its FP combinations explained up to 59% variance in cortical thickness. These results may form the basis of further investigation on normative deviation in cortical thickness and its significance for behavioral and cognitive outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25364DOI Listing
February 2021

Subcortical volumes across the lifespan: Data from 18,605 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 11. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Department of Psychology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Age has a major effect on brain volume. However, the normative studies available are constrained by small sample sizes, restricted age coverage and significant methodological variability. These limitations introduce inconsistencies and may obscure or distort the lifespan trajectories of brain morphometry. In response, we capitalized on the resources of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to examine age-related trajectories inferred from cross-sectional measures of the ventricles, the basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens), the thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala using magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 18,605 individuals aged 3-90 years. All subcortical structure volumes were at their maximum value early in life. The volume of the basal ganglia showed a monotonic negative association with age thereafter; there was no significant association between age and the volumes of the thalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus (with some degree of decline in thalamus) until the sixth decade of life after which they also showed a steep negative association with age. The lateral ventricles showed continuous enlargement throughout the lifespan. Age was positively associated with inter-individual variability in the hippocampus and amygdala and the lateral ventricles. These results were robust to potential confounders and could be used to examine the functional significance of deviations from typical age-related morphometric patterns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25320DOI Listing
February 2021

Accuracy and reproducibility of automated white matter hyperintensities segmentation with lesion segmentation tool: A European multi-site 3T study.

Magn Reson Imaging 2021 02 19;76:108-115. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

IRCCS SDN, Naples, Italy.

Brain vascular damage accumulate in aging and often manifest as white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) on MRI. Despite increased interest in automated methods to segment WMHs, a gold standard has not been achieved and their longitudinal reproducibility has been poorly investigated. The aim of present work is to evaluate accuracy and reproducibility of two freely available segmentation algorithms. A harmonized MRI protocol was implemented in 3T-scanners across 13 European sites, each scanning five volunteers twice (test-retest) using 2D-FLAIR. Automated segmentation was performed using Lesion segmentation tool algorithms (LST): the Lesion growth algorithm (LGA) in SPM8 and 12 and the Lesion prediction algorithm (LPA). To assess reproducibility, we applied the LST longitudinal pipeline to the LGA and LPA outputs for both the test and retest scans. We evaluated volumetric and spatial accuracy comparing LGA and LPA with manual tracing, and for reproducibility the test versus retest. Median volume difference between automated WMH and manual segmentations (mL) was -0.22[IQR = 0.50] for LGA-SPM8, -0.12[0.57] for LGA-SPM12, -0.09[0.53] for LPA, while the spatial accuracy (Dice Coefficient) was 0.29[0.31], 0.33[0.26] and 0.41[0.23], respectively. The reproducibility analysis showed a median reproducibility error of 20%[IQR = 41] for LGA-SPM8, 14% [31] for LGA-SPM12 and 10% [27] with the LPA cross-sectional pipeline. Applying the LST longitudinal pipeline, the reproducibility errors were considerably reduced (LGA: 0%[IQR = 0], p < 0.001; LPA: 0% [3], p < 0.001) compared to those derived using the cross-sectional algorithms. The DC using the longitudinal pipeline was excellent (median = 1) for LGA [IQR = 0] and LPA [0.02]. LST algorithms showed moderate accuracy and good reproducibility. Therefore, it can be used as a reliable cross-sectional and longitudinal tool in multi-site studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mri.2020.11.008DOI Listing
February 2021

Functional connectivity alterations associated with literacy difficulties in early readers.

Brain Imaging Behav 2020 Oct 13. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Pg. Vall d'Hebron 171, 08035, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

The link between literacy difficulties and brain alterations has been described in depth. Resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) has been successfully applied to the study of intrinsic functional connectivity (iFc) both in dyslexia and typically developing children. Most related studies have focused on the stages from late childhood into adulthood using a seed to voxel approach. Our study analyzes iFc in an early childhood sample using the multivariate pattern analysis. This facilitates a hypothesis-free analysis and the possible identification of abnormal functional connectivity patterns at a whole brain level. Thirty-four children with literacy difficulties (LD) (7.1 ± 0.69 yr.) and 30 typically developing children (TD) (7.43 ± 0.52 yr.) were selected. Functional brain connectivity was measured using an rs-fMRI acquisition. The LD group showed a higher iFc between the right middle frontal gyrus (rMFG) and the default mode network (DMN) regions, and a lower iFc between the rMFG and both the bilateral insular cortex and the supramarginal gyrus. These results are interpreted as a DMN on/off routine malfunction in the LD group, which suggests an alteration of the task control network regulating DMN activity. In the LD group, the posterior cingulate cortex also showed a lower iFc with both the middle temporal poles and the fusiform gyrus. This could be interpreted as a failure in the integration of information between brain regions that facilitate reading. Our results show that children with literacy difficulties have an altered functional connectivity in their reading and attentional networks at the beginning of the literacy acquisition. Future studies should evaluate whether or not these alterations could indicate a risk of developing dyslexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11682-020-00406-3DOI Listing
October 2020

Greater male than female variability in regional brain structure across the lifespan.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 Oct 12. Epub 2020 Oct 12.

FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.

For many traits, males show greater variability than females, with possible implications for understanding sex differences in health and disease. Here, the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Consortium presents the largest-ever mega-analysis of sex differences in variability of brain structure, based on international data spanning nine decades of life. Subcortical volumes, cortical surface area and cortical thickness were assessed in MRI data of 16,683 healthy individuals 1-90 years old (47% females). We observed significant patterns of greater male than female between-subject variance for all subcortical volumetric measures, all cortical surface area measures, and 60% of cortical thickness measures. This pattern was stable across the lifespan for 50% of the subcortical structures, 70% of the regional area measures, and nearly all regions for thickness. Our findings that these sex differences are present in childhood implicate early life genetic or gene-environment interaction mechanisms. The findings highlight the importance of individual differences within the sexes, that may underpin sex-specific vulnerability to disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25204DOI Listing
October 2020

Virtual Histology of Cortical Thickness and Shared Neurobiology in 6 Psychiatric Disorders.

JAMA Psychiatry 2021 Jan;78(1):47-63

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Importance: Large-scale neuroimaging studies have revealed group differences in cortical thickness across many psychiatric disorders. The underlying neurobiology behind these differences is not well understood.

Objective: To determine neurobiologic correlates of group differences in cortical thickness between cases and controls in 6 disorders: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Profiles of group differences in cortical thickness between cases and controls were generated using T1-weighted magnetic resonance images. Similarity between interregional profiles of cell-specific gene expression and those in the group differences in cortical thickness were investigated in each disorder. Next, principal component analysis was used to reveal a shared profile of group difference in thickness across the disorders. Analysis for gene coexpression, clustering, and enrichment for genes associated with these disorders were conducted. Data analysis was conducted between June and December 2019. The analysis included 145 cohorts across 6 psychiatric disorders drawn from the ENIGMA consortium. The numbers of cases and controls in each of the 6 disorders were as follows: ADHD: 1814 and 1602; ASD: 1748 and 1770; BD: 1547 and 3405; MDD: 2658 and 3572; OCD: 2266 and 2007; and schizophrenia: 2688 and 3244.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Interregional profiles of group difference in cortical thickness between cases and controls.

Results: A total of 12 721 cases and 15 600 controls, ranging from ages 2 to 89 years, were included in this study. Interregional profiles of group differences in cortical thickness for each of the 6 psychiatric disorders were associated with profiles of gene expression specific to pyramidal (CA1) cells, astrocytes (except for BD), and microglia (except for OCD); collectively, gene-expression profiles of the 3 cell types explain between 25% and 54% of variance in interregional profiles of group differences in cortical thickness. Principal component analysis revealed a shared profile of difference in cortical thickness across the 6 disorders (48% variance explained); interregional profile of this principal component 1 was associated with that of the pyramidal-cell gene expression (explaining 56% of interregional variation). Coexpression analyses of these genes revealed 2 clusters: (1) a prenatal cluster enriched with genes involved in neurodevelopmental (axon guidance) processes and (2) a postnatal cluster enriched with genes involved in synaptic activity and plasticity-related processes. These clusters were enriched with genes associated with all 6 psychiatric disorders.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this study, shared neurobiologic processes were associated with differences in cortical thickness across multiple psychiatric disorders. These processes implicate a common role of prenatal development and postnatal functioning of the cerebral cortex in these disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2694DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7450410PMC
January 2021

White matter abnormalities across different epilepsy syndromes in adults: an ENIGMA-Epilepsy study.

Brain 2020 08;143(8):2454-2473

Department of Neurology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425 SC, USA.

The epilepsies are commonly accompanied by widespread abnormalities in cerebral white matter. ENIGMA-Epilepsy is a large quantitative brain imaging consortium, aggregating data to investigate patterns of neuroimaging abnormalities in common epilepsy syndromes, including temporal lobe epilepsy, extratemporal epilepsy, and genetic generalized epilepsy. Our goal was to rank the most robust white matter microstructural differences across and within syndromes in a multicentre sample of adult epilepsy patients. Diffusion-weighted MRI data were analysed from 1069 healthy controls and 1249 patients: temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis (n = 599), temporal lobe epilepsy with normal MRI (n = 275), genetic generalized epilepsy (n = 182) and non-lesional extratemporal epilepsy (n = 193). A harmonized protocol using tract-based spatial statistics was used to derive skeletonized maps of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity for each participant, and fibre tracts were segmented using a diffusion MRI atlas. Data were harmonized to correct for scanner-specific variations in diffusion measures using a batch-effect correction tool (ComBat). Analyses of covariance, adjusting for age and sex, examined differences between each epilepsy syndrome and controls for each white matter tract (Bonferroni corrected at P < 0.001). Across 'all epilepsies' lower fractional anisotropy was observed in most fibre tracts with small to medium effect sizes, especially in the corpus callosum, cingulum and external capsule. There were also less robust increases in mean diffusivity. Syndrome-specific fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity differences were most pronounced in patients with hippocampal sclerosis in the ipsilateral parahippocampal cingulum and external capsule, with smaller effects across most other tracts. Individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy and normal MRI showed a similar pattern of greater ipsilateral than contralateral abnormalities, but less marked than those in patients with hippocampal sclerosis. Patients with generalized and extratemporal epilepsies had pronounced reductions in fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum, corona radiata and external capsule, and increased mean diffusivity of the anterior corona radiata. Earlier age of seizure onset and longer disease duration were associated with a greater extent of diffusion abnormalities in patients with hippocampal sclerosis. We demonstrate microstructural abnormalities across major association, commissural, and projection fibres in a large multicentre study of epilepsy. Overall, patients with epilepsy showed white matter abnormalities in the corpus callosum, cingulum and external capsule, with differing severity across epilepsy syndromes. These data further define the spectrum of white matter abnormalities in common epilepsy syndromes, yielding more detailed insights into pathological substrates that may explain cognitive and psychiatric co-morbidities and be used to guide biomarker studies of treatment outcomes and/or genetic research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa200DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7567169PMC
August 2020

Aggression subtypes relate to distinct resting state functional connectivity in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior.

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2021 Aug 13;30(8):1237-1249. Epub 2020 Aug 13.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón School of Medicine, IiSGM, CIBERSAM, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.

There is increasing evidence for altered brain resting state functional connectivity in adolescents with disruptive behavior. While a considerable body of behavioral research points to differences between reactive and proactive aggression, it remains unknown whether these two subtypes have dissociable effects on connectivity. Additionally, callous-unemotional traits are important specifiers in subtyping aggressive behavior along the affective dimension. Accordingly, we examined associations between two aggression subtypes along with callous-unemotional traits using a seed-to-voxel approach. Six functionally relevant seeds were selected to probe the salience and the default mode network, based on their presumed role in aggression. The resting state sequence was acquired from 207 children and adolescents of both sexes [mean age (standard deviation) = 13.30 (2.60); range = 8.02-18.35] as part of a Europe-based multi-center study. One hundred eighteen individuals exhibiting disruptive behavior (conduct disorder/oppositional defiant disorder) with varying comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms were studied, together with 89 healthy controls. Proactive aggression was associated with increased left amygdala-precuneus coupling, while reactive aggression related to hyper-connectivities of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) to the parahippocampus, the left amygdala to the precuneus and to hypo-connectivity between the right anterior insula and the nucleus caudate. Callous-unemotional traits were linked to distinct hyper-connectivities to frontal, parietal, and cingulate areas. Additionally, compared to controls, cases demonstrated reduced connectivity of the PCC and left anterior insula to left frontal areas, the latter only when controlling for ADHD scores. Taken together, this study revealed aggression-subtype-specific patterns involving areas associated with emotion, empathy, morality, and cognitive control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01601-9DOI Listing
August 2021

Specific cortical and subcortical alterations for reactive and proactive aggression in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior.

Neuroimage Clin 2020 11;27:102344. Epub 2020 Jul 11.

Radboud University Medical Center, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry University Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Maladaptive aggression, as present in conduct disorder (CD) and, to a lesser extent, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), has been associated with structural alterations in various brain regions, such as ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), amygdala, insula and ventral striatum. Although aggression can be subdivided into reactive and proactive subtypes, no neuroimaging studies have yet investigated if any structural brain alterations are associated with either of the subtypes specifically. Here we investigated associations between aggression subtypes, CU traits and ADHD symptoms in predefined regions of interest. T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired from 158 children and adolescents with disruptive behavior (ODD/CD) and 96 controls in a multi-center study (aged 8-18). Aggression subtypes were assessed by questionnaires filled in by participants and their parents. Cortical volume and subcortical volumes and shape were determined using Freesurfer and the FMRIB integrated registration and segmentation tool. Associations between volumes and continuous measures of aggression were established using multilevel linear mixed effects models. Proactive aggression was negatively associated with amygdala volume (b = -10.7, p = 0.02), while reactive aggression was negatively associated with insula volume (b = -21.7, p = 0.01). No associations were found with CU traits or ADHD symptomatology. Classical group comparison showed that children and adolescents with disruptive behavior had smaller volumes than controls in (bilateral) vmPFC (p = 0.003) with modest effect size and a reduced shape in the anterior part of the left ventral striatum (p = 0.005). Our study showed negative associations between reactive aggression and volumes in a region involved in threat responsivity and between proactive aggression and a region linked to empathy. This provides evidence for aggression subtype-specific alterations in brain structure which may provide useful insights for clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102344DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7374596PMC
June 2021

The effects of callous-unemotional traits and aggression subtypes on amygdala activity in response to negative faces.

Psychol Med 2020 Jul 6:1-9. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Hospital, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Brain imaging studies have shown altered amygdala activity during emotion processing in children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) compared to typically developing children and adolescents (TD). Here we aimed to assess whether aggression-related subtypes (reactive and proactive aggression) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits predicted variation in amygdala activity and skin conductance (SC) response during emotion processing.

Methods: We included 177 participants (n = 108 cases with disruptive behaviour and/or ODD/CD and n = 69 TD), aged 8-18 years, across nine sites in Europe, as part of the EU Aggressotype and MATRICS projects. All participants performed an emotional face-matching functional magnetic resonance imaging task.

Results: Differences between cases and TD in affective processing, as well as specificity of activation patterns for aggression subtypes and CU traits, were assessed. Simultaneous SC recordings were acquired in a subsample (n = 63). Cases compared to TDs showed higher amygdala activity in response to negative faces (fearful and angry) v. shapes. Subtyping cases according to aggression-related subtypes did not significantly influence on amygdala activity; while stratification based on CU traits was more sensitive and revealed decreased amygdala activity in the high CU group. SC responses were significantly lower in cases and negatively correlated with CU traits, reactive and proactive aggression.

Conclusions: Our results showed differences in amygdala activity and SC responses to emotional faces between cases with ODD/CD and TD, while CU traits moderate both central (amygdala) and peripheral (SC) responses. Our insights regarding subtypes and trait-specific aggression could be used for improved diagnostics and personalized treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720002111DOI Listing
July 2020

External trigeminal nerve stimulation for drug resistant epilepsy: A randomized controlled trial.

Brain Stimul 2020 Sep - Oct;13(5):1245-1253. Epub 2020 Jun 10.

Epilepsy Unit, Department of Neurology, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, Institut D'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi I Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.

Background: External trigeminal nerve stimulation (ETNS) is an emergent, non-invasive neurostimulation therapy delivered bilaterally with adhesive skin electrodes. In previous studies, ETNS was associated to a decrease in seizure frequency in patients with focal drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE).

Objective: To determine the long-term efficacy and tolerability of ETNS in patients with focal DRE. Moreover, to explore whether its efficacy depends on the epileptogenic zone (frontal or temporal), and its impact on mood, cognitive function, quality of life, and trigeminal nerve excitability.

Methods: Forty consecutive patients with frontal or temporal DRE, unsuitable for surgery, were randomized to ETNS or usual medical treatment. Participants were evaluated at 3, 6 and 12 months for efficacy, side effects, mood scales, neuropsychological tests and trigeminal nerve excitability.

Results: Subjects had a median of 15 seizures per month and had tried a median of 12.5 antiepileptic drugs. At 12 months, percentage of responders was 50% in ETNS group and 0% in control group. Seizure frequency in ETNS group decreased by -43.5% from baseline. Temporal epilepsy subgroup responded better than frontal epilepsy subgroup (55.56% vs. 45.45%, respectively). Median stimulation intensity was 6.2 mA. ETNS improved quality of life, but not anxiety or depression. Long-term ETNS affected neither neuropsychological function, nor trigeminal nerve excitability. No relevant adverse events were observed.

Conclusions: ETNS is an effective and well-tolerated therapy for focal DRE. Patients with temporal epilepsy showed a better response than those with frontal epilepsy. Future studies with larger populations may define its role compared to other neurostimulation techniques.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class II evidence that ETNS reduces seizure frequency in patients with focal DRE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2020.06.005DOI Listing
March 2021

The ENIGMA-Epilepsy working group: Mapping disease from large data sets.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 May 29. Epub 2020 May 29.

Instituto de Neurobiología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Querétaro, Mexico.

Epilepsy is a common and serious neurological disorder, with many different constituent conditions characterized by their electro clinical, imaging, and genetic features. MRI has been fundamental in advancing our understanding of brain processes in the epilepsies. Smaller-scale studies have identified many interesting imaging phenomena, with implications both for understanding pathophysiology and improving clinical care. Through the infrastructure and concepts now well-established by the ENIGMA Consortium, ENIGMA-Epilepsy was established to strengthen epilepsy neuroscience by greatly increasing sample sizes, leveraging ideas and methods established in other ENIGMA projects, and generating a body of collaborating scientists and clinicians to drive forward robust research. Here we review published, current, and future projects, that include structural MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and resting state functional MRI (rsfMRI), and that employ advanced methods including structural covariance, and event-based modeling analysis. We explore age of onset- and duration-related features, as well as phenomena-specific work focusing on particular epilepsy syndromes or phenotypes, multimodal analyses focused on understanding the biology of disease progression, and deep learning approaches. We encourage groups who may be interested in participating to make contact to further grow and develop ENIGMA-Epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25037DOI Listing
May 2020

Amygdalar nuclei and hippocampal subfields on MRI: Test-retest reliability of automated volumetry across different MRI sites and vendors.

Neuroimage 2020 09 13;218:116932. Epub 2020 May 13.

CRMBM-CEMEREM, UMR 7339, Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, Marseille, France.

Background: The amygdala and the hippocampus are two limbic structures that play a critical role in cognition and behavior, however their manual segmentation and that of their smaller nuclei/subfields in multicenter datasets is time consuming and difficult due to the low contrast of standard MRI. Here, we assessed the reliability of the automated segmentation of amygdalar nuclei and hippocampal subfields across sites and vendors using FreeSurfer in two independent cohorts of older and younger healthy adults.

Methods: Sixty-five healthy older (cohort 1) and 68 younger subjects (cohort 2), from the PharmaCog and CoRR consortia, underwent repeated 3D-T1 MRI (interval 1-90 days). Segmentation was performed using FreeSurfer v6.0. Reliability was assessed using volume reproducibility error (ε) and spatial overlapping coefficient (DICE) between test and retest session.

Results: Significant MRI site and vendor effects (p ​< ​.05) were found in a few subfields/nuclei for the ε, while extensive effects were found for the DICE score of most subfields/nuclei. Reliability was strongly influenced by volume, as ε correlated negatively and DICE correlated positively with volume size of structures (absolute value of Spearman's r correlations >0.43, p ​< ​1.39E-36). In particular, volumes larger than 200 ​mm (for amygdalar nuclei) and 300 ​mm (for hippocampal subfields, except for molecular layer) had the best test-retest reproducibility (ε ​< ​5% and DICE ​> ​0.80).

Conclusion: Our results support the use of volumetric measures of larger amygdalar nuclei and hippocampal subfields in multisite MRI studies. These measures could be useful for disease tracking and assessment of efficacy in drug trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116932DOI Listing
September 2020

Muscle Phenotype, Proteolysis, and Atrophy Signaling During Reloading in Mice: Effects of Curcumin on the Gastrocnemius.

Nutrients 2020 Jan 31;12(2). Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Pulmonology Department-Muscle Wasting and Cachexia in Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Lung Cancer Research Group, IMIM-Hospital del Mar, Parc de Salut Mar, Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), 08003 Barcelona, Spain.

We hypothesized that curcumin may mitigate muscle protein degradation and loss through attenuation of proteolytic activity in limb muscles of mice exposed to reloading (7dR) following immobilization (7dI). In gastrocnemius of mice (female C57BL/6J, 10 weeks) exposed to recovery following a seven-day period of hindlimb immobilization with/without curcumin treatment, markers of muscle proteolysis (systemic troponin-I), atrophy signaling pathways and histone deacetylases, protein synthesis, and muscle phenotypic characteristics and function were analyzed. In gastrocnemius of reloading mice compared to unloaded, muscle function, structure, sirtuin-1, and protein synthesis improved, while proteolytic and signaling markers (FoxO1/3) declined. In gastrocnemius of unloaded and reloaded mice treated with curcumin, proteolytic and signaling markers (NF-kB p50) decreased and sirtuin-1 activity and hybrid fibers size increased (reloaded muscle), while no significant improvement was seen in muscle function. Treatment with curcumin elicited a rise in sirtuin-1 activity, while attenuating proteolysis in gastrocnemius of mice during reloading following a period of unloading. Curcumin attenuated muscle proteolysis probably via activation of histone deacetylase sirtuin-1, which also led to decreased levels of atrophy signaling pathways. These findings offer an avenue of research in the design of therapeutic strategies in clinical settings of patients exposed to periods of disuse muscle atrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12020388DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071295PMC
January 2020

Differential tDCS and tACS Effects on Working Memory-Related Neural Activity and Resting-State Connectivity.

Front Neurosci 2019 17;13:1440. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Transcranial direct and alternating current stimulation (tDCS and tACS, respectively) entail capability to modulate human brain dynamics and cognition. However, the comparability of these approaches at the level of large-scale functional networks has not been thoroughly investigated. In this study, 44 subjects were randomly assigned to receive sham ( = 15), tDCS ( = 15), or tACS ( = 14). The first electrode (anode in tDCS) was positioned over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the target area, and the second electrode (cathode in tDCS) was placed over the right supraorbital region. tDCS was delivered with a constant current of 2 mA. tACS was fixed to 2 mA peak-to-peak with 6 Hz frequency. Stimulation was applied concurrently with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) acquisitions, both at rest and during the performance of a verbal working memory (WM) task. After stimulation, subjects repeated the fMRI WM task. Our results indicated that at rest, tDCS increased functional connectivity particularly within the default-mode network (DMN), while tACS decreased it. When comparing both fMRI WM tasks, it was observed that tDCS displayed decreased brain activity post-stimulation as compared to online. Conversely, tACS effects were driven by neural increases online as compared to post-stimulation. Interestingly, both effects primarily occurred within DMN-related areas. Regarding the differences in each fMRI WM task, during the online fMRI WM task, tACS engaged distributed neural resources which did not overlap with the WM-dependent activity pattern, but with some posterior DMN regions. In contrast, during the post-stimulation fMRI WM task, tDCS strengthened prefrontal DMN deactivations, being these activity reductions associated with faster responses. Furthermore, it was observed that tDCS neural responses presented certain consistency across distinct fMRI modalities, while tACS did not. In sum, tDCS and tACS modulate fMRI-derived network dynamics differently. However, both effects seem to focus on DMN regions and the WM network-DMN shift, which are highly affected in aging and disease. Thus, albeit exploratory and needing further replication with larger samples, our results might provide a refined understanding of how the DMN functioning can be externally modulated through commonly used non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, which may be of eventual clinical relevance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.01440DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6978675PMC
January 2020

Diagnostic Accuracy of MRI Visual Rating Scales in the Diagnosis of Early Onset Cognitive Impairment.

J Alzheimers Dis 2020 ;73(4):1575-1583

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Hospital Clínic, Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: The diagnosis of incipient symptomatic stages of early-onset dementia is challenging. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an easy-access biomarker.

Objective: We aim to determine the distribution and diagnostic performance of the existing atrophy visual rating scales on MRI in initial stages of the most frequent neurodegenerative early onset dementias.

Methods: We evaluated the visual atrophy scales usefulness in two hundred subjects: seventy sporadic early onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients (48 amnestic and 22 non-amnestic), 14 patients with autosomal-dominant AD (ADAD), 25 sporadic frontotemporal dementia patients [11 with behavioral variant (bvFTD), nine with semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), and 5 with non-fluent primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA)], 7 with genetically determined FTD (genetic FTD), 25 mild cognitive impairment due to non-degenerative disorders, and 59 healthy controls. All had MMSE≥18, 3T-brain MRI, and biomarker-supported diagnosis. Two raters evaluated six frontal, temporal, and parietal scales. Inter-rater reliability and diagnostic performance in terms of area under the receiver-operator curves and balanced accuracy were analyzed.

Results: Best scales to discriminate AD from controls were the anterior cingulate scale for amnestic and the posterior atrophy scale for sporadic non-amnestic AD and ADAD. The anterior temporal scale was the best for sporadic bvFTD and svPPA and the anterior cingulate scale was for nfvPPA. All scales performed well for the genetic FTD. However, no scale demonstrated good performance at discriminating AD from FTD or non-degenerative disorders.

Conclusions: The clinicians should interpret with caution atrophy scale assessment in subjects with early-onset cognitive impairment given that none of the evaluated scales met the requirements for being a diagnostic biomarker.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-191167DOI Listing
May 2021

Contribution of CSF biomarkers to early-onset Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia neuroimaging signatures.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 06 16;41(8):2004-2013. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Prior studies have described distinct patterns of brain gray matter and white matter alterations in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), as well as differences in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers profiles. We aim to investigate the relationship between early-onset AD (EOAD) and FTLD structural alterations and CSF biomarker levels. We included 138 subjects (64 EOAD, 26 FTLD, and 48 controls), all of them with a 3T MRI brain scan and CSF biomarkers available (the 42 amino acid-long form of the amyloid-beta protein [Aβ42], total-tau protein [T-tau], neurofilament light chain [NfL], neurogranin [Ng], and 14-3-3 levels). We used FreeSurfer and FSL to obtain cortical thickness (CTh) and fraction anisotropy (FA) maps. We studied group differences in CTh and FA and described the "AD signature" and "FTLD signature." We tested multiple regression models to find which CSF-biomarkers better explained each disease neuroimaging signature. CTh and FA maps corresponding to the AD and FTLD signatures were in accordance with previous literature. Multiple regression analyses showed that the biomarkers that better explained CTh values within the AD signature were Aβ and 14-3-3; whereas NfL and 14-3-3 levels explained CTh values within the FTLD signature. Similarly, NfL levels explained FA values in the FTLD signature. Ng levels were not predictive in any of the models. Biochemical markers contribute differently to structural (CTh and FA) changes typical of AD and FTLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24925DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7267898PMC
June 2020

Functional and structural correlates of working memory performance and stability in healthy older adults.

Brain Struct Funct 2020 Jan 23;225(1):375-386. Epub 2019 Dec 23.

Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Casanova, 143, 08036, Barcelona, Spain.

Despite the well-described deleterious effects of aging on cognition, some individuals are able to show stability. Here, we aimed to describe the functional and structural brain characteristics of older individuals, particularly focusing on those with stable working memory (WM) performance, as measured with a verbal N-back task across a 2-year follow-up interval. Forty-seven subjects were categorized as stables or decliners based on their WM change. Stables were further subdivided into high performers (SHP) and low performers (SLP), based on their baseline scores. At both time points, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were acquired, including task-based functional MRI (fMRI) and structural T1-MRI. Although there was no significant interaction between overall stables and decliners as regards fMRI patterns, decliners exhibited over-activation in the right superior parietal lobule at follow-up as compared to baseline, while SHP showed reduced the activity in this region. Further, at follow-up, decliners exhibited more activity than SHP but in left temporo-parietal cortex and posterior cingulate (i.e., non-task-related areas). Also, at the cross-sectional level, SLP showed lower activity than SHP at both time points and less activity than decliners at follow-up. Concerning brain structure, a generalized significant cortical thinning over time was identified for the whole sample. Notwithstanding, the decliners evidenced a greater rate of atrophy comprising the posterior middle and inferior temporal gyrus as compared to the stable group. Overall, fMRI data suggest unsuccessful compensation in the case of decliners, shown as increases in functional recruitment during the task in the context of a loss in WM performance and brain atrophy. On the other hand, among older individuals with WM cognitive stability, differences in baseline performance might determine dissimilar fMRI trajectories. In this vein, the findings in the SHP subgroup support the brain maintenance hypothesis, suggesting that stable and high WM performance in aging is sustained by functional efficiency and maintained brain structure rather than compensatory changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-019-02009-1DOI Listing
January 2020

Beyond the Epileptic Focus: Functional Epileptic Networks in Focal Epilepsy.

Cereb Cortex 2020 04;30(4):2338-2357

Epilepsy Program, Department of Neurology, Hospital Clínic, Neuroscience Institute, CP 08036, Barcelona, Spain.

Focal epilepsy can be conceptualized as a network disorder, and the functional epileptic network can be described as a complex system of multiple brain areas that interact dynamically to generate epileptic activity. However, we still do not fully understand the functional architecture of epileptic networks. We studied a cohort of 21 patients with extratemporal focal epilepsy. We used independent component analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. In order to identify the epilepsy-related components, we examined the general linear model-derived electroencephalography-fMRI (EEG-fMRI) time courses associated with interictal epileptic activity as intrinsic hemodynamic epileptic biomarkers. Independent component analysis revealed components related to the epileptic time courses in all 21 patients. Each epilepsy-related component described a network of spatially distributed brain areas that corresponded to the specific epileptic network in each patient. We also provided evidence for the interaction between the epileptic activity generated at the epileptic network and the physiological resting state networks. Our findings suggest that independent component analysis, guided by EEG-fMRI epileptic time courses, have the potential to define the functional architecture of the epileptic network in a noninvasive way. These data could be useful in planning invasive EEG electrode placement, guiding surgical resections, and more effective therapeutic interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz243DOI Listing
April 2020

Interactive effect of age and APOE-ε4 allele load on white matter myelin content in cognitively normal middle-aged subjects.

Neuroimage Clin 2019 16;24:101983. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center, Pasqual Maragall Foundation, Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Fragilidad y Envejecimiento Saludable (CIBERFES), Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:

The apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) ε4 allele has a strong and manifold impact on cognition and neuroimaging phenotypes in cognitively normal subjects, including alterations in the white matter (WM) microstructure. Such alterations have often been regarded as a reflection of potential thinning of the myelin sheath along axons, rather than pure axonal degeneration. Considering the main role of APOE in brain lipid transport, characterizing the impact of APOE on the myelin coating is therefore of crucial interest, especially in healthy APOE-ε4 homozygous individuals, who are exposed to a twelve-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), compared to the rest of the population. We examined T1w/T2w ratio maps in 515 cognitively healthy middle-aged participants from the ALFA study (ALzheimer and FAmilies) cohort, a single-site population-based study enriched for AD risk (68 APOE-ε4 homozygotes, 197 heterozygotes, and 250 non-carriers). Using tract-based spatial statistics, we assessed the impact of age and APOE genotype on this ratio taken as an indirect descriptor of myelin content. Healthy APOE-ε4 carriers display decreased T1w/T2w ratios in extensive regions in a dose-dependent manner. These differences were found to interact with age, suggesting faster changes in individuals with more ε4 alleles. These results obtained with T1w/T2w ratios, confirm the increased vulnerability of WM tracts in APOE-ε4 healthy carriers. Early alterations of myelin content could be the result of the impaired function of the ε4 isoform of the APOE protein in cholesterol transport. These findings help to clarify the possible interactions between the APOE-dependent non-pathological burden and age-related changes potentially at the source of the AD pathological cascade.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101983DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742967PMC
September 2020