Functional connectivity
ECTRIMS Online Library. Rocca M. 10/12/18; 232060; 307
Dr. Maria Assunta Rocca
Dr. Maria Assunta Rocca

Abstract: 307

Type: Educational Session

Abstract Category: N/A

In multiple sclerosis (MS), physical and cognitive deficits not only reflect structural damage, but also functional imbalance in and between brain networks. Resting-state (RS) functional MRI (fMRI) allows to investigate intrinsic, synchronized brain activity across the whole brain and to measure the degree of functional correlation between different cortical regions. Differently from active fMRI, it requires only minimal patients' cooperation, thus allowing the study of clinically impaired patients.
RS functional connectivity (FC) abnormalities have been shown in patients with MS, from the earliest stages of the disease, in patients with clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) suggestive of MS. A comparison between CIS and relapsing-remitting (RR) MS patients has suggested that cortical reorganization of RS FC might be an early but finite compensatory phenomenon in this condition. The collapse of network functional reorganization capacities is one of the mechanisms currently under investigation to explain physical and cognitive deficits in patients with the progressive forms of the disease.
RS FC abnormalities affect not only within-network, but also inter-network connectivity and are related to the extent of T2 lesions and the severity of white matter structural abnormalities. The potential role of RS fMRI in the monitoring of cognitive rehabilitation treatment in patients affected by MS has been demonstrated. Overall, RS fMRI offers a promising venue to investigate the functional impact of MS pathology, complementing structural conventional and quantitative MRI techniques, in order to understand better MS pathophysiology from the earliest clinical stages of the disease. In the future, models capable to integrate measures derived from functional and structural MRI techniques should be developed. In addition, the role of dysfunction of critical CNS structures (e.g., the thalamus, the hippocampus) in explaining specific MS-related symptoms should be investigated.
Disclosure: Dr. Maria A. Rocca received speakers honoraria from Biogen Idec, TEVA Neuroscience, Merck Serono, Genzyme, Novartis and Roche and receives research support from the Italian Ministry of Health and Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla.

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