Resting-state oscillations reveal disturbed excitation–inhibition ratio in Alzheimer’s disease patients

Anne M. van Nifterick*, Danique Mulder, Denise J. Duineveld, Marina Diachenko, Philip Scheltens, Cornelis J. Stam, Ronald E. van Kesteren, Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen, Arjan Hillebrand, Alida A. Gouw

*Corresponding author for this work

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An early disruption of neuronal excitation–inhibition (E–I) balance in preclinical animal models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been frequently reported, but is difficult to measure directly and non-invasively in humans. Here, we examined known and novel neurophysiological measures sensitive to E–I in patients across the AD continuum. Resting-state magnetoencephalography (MEG) data of 86 amyloid-biomarker-confirmed subjects across the AD continuum (17 patients diagnosed with subjective cognitive decline, 18 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 51 with dementia due to probable AD (AD dementia)), 46 healthy elderly and 20 young control subjects were reconstructed to source-space. E–I balance was investigated by detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA), a functional E/I (fE/I) algorithm, and the aperiodic exponent of the power spectrum. We found a disrupted E–I ratio in AD dementia patients specifically, by a lower DFA, and a shift towards higher excitation, by a higher fE/I and a lower aperiodic exponent. Healthy subjects showed lower fE/I ratios (< 1.0) than reported in previous literature, not explained by age or choice of an arbitrary threshold parameter, which warrants caution in interpretation of fE/I results. Correlation analyses showed that a lower DFA (E–I imbalance) and a lower aperiodic exponent (more excitation) was associated with a worse cognitive score in AD dementia patients. In contrast, a higher DFA in the hippocampi of MCI patients was associated with a worse cognitive score. This MEG-study showed E–I imbalance, likely due to increased excitation, in AD dementia, but not in early stage AD patients. To accurately determine the direction of shift in E–I balance, validations of the currently used markers and additional in vivo markers of E–I are required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7419
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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