Sensitive and reproducible MEG resting-state metrics of functional connectivity in Alzheimer’s disease

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Background: Analysis of functional brain networks in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been hampered by a lack of reproducible, yet valid metrics of functional connectivity (FC). This study aimed to assess both the sensitivity and reproducibility of the corrected amplitude envelope correlation (AEC-c) and phase lag index (PLI), two metrics of FC that are insensitive to the effects of volume conduction and field spread, in two separate cohorts of patients with dementia due to AD versus healthy elderly controls. Methods: Subjects with a clinical diagnosis of AD dementia with biomarker proof, and a control group of subjective cognitive decline (SCD), underwent two 5-min resting-state MEG recordings. Data consisted of a test (AD = 28; SCD = 29) and validation (AD = 29; SCD = 27) cohort. Time-series were estimated for 90 regions of interest (ROIs) in the automated anatomical labelling (AAL) atlas. For each of five canonical frequency bands, the AEC-c and PLI were calculated between all 90 ROIs, and connections were averaged per ROI. General linear models were constructed to compare the global FC differences between the groups, assess the reproducibility, and evaluate the effects of age and relative power. Reproducibility of the regional FC differences was assessed using the Mann-Whitney U tests, with correction for multiple testing using the false discovery rate (FDR). Results: The AEC-c showed significantly and reproducibly lower global FC for the AD group compared to SCD, in the alpha (8–13 Hz) and beta (13–30 Hz) bands, while the PLI revealed reproducibly lower FC for the AD group in the delta (0.5–4 Hz) band and higher FC for the theta (4–8 Hz) band. Regionally, the beta band AEC-c showed reproducibility for almost all ROIs (except for 13 ROIs in the frontal and temporal lobes). For the other bands, the AEC-c and PLI did not show regional reproducibility after FDR correction. The theta band PLI was susceptible to the effect of relative power. Conclusion: For MEG, the AEC-c is a sensitive and reproducible metric, able to distinguish FC differences between patients with AD dementia and cognitively healthy controls. These two measures likely reflect different aspects of neural activity and show differential sensitivity to changes in neural dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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