Ktena SI, Schirmer MD, Etherton MR, Giese A-K, Tuozzo C, Mills BB, Rueckert D, Wu O, Rost NS. Brain Connectivity Measures Improve Modeling of Functional Outcome After Acute Ischemic Stroke. Stroke 2019;50(10):2761-2767.Abstract
    Background and Purpose- The ability to model long-term functional outcomes after acute ischemic stroke represents a major clinical challenge. One approach to potentially improve prediction modeling involves the analysis of connectomics. The field of connectomics represents the brain's connectivity as a graph, whose topological properties have helped uncover underlying mechanisms of brain function in health and disease. Specifically, we assessed the impact of stroke lesions on rich club organization, a high capacity backbone system of brain function. Methods- In a hospital-based cohort of 41 acute ischemic stroke patients, we investigated the effect of acute infarcts on the brain's prestroke rich club backbone and poststroke functional connectomes with respect to poststroke outcome. Functional connectomes were created using 3 anatomic atlases, and characteristic path-length () was calculated for each connectome. The number of rich club regions affected were manually determined using each patient's diffusion weighted image. We investigated differences in with respect to outcome (modified Rankin Scale score; 90 days) and the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS; early: 2-5 days; late: 90-day follow-up). Furthermore, we assessed the effect of including number of rich club regions and in outcome models, using linear regression and assessing the explained variance (R). Results- Of 41 patients (mean age [range]: 70 [45-89] years), 61% were male. Lower was generally associated with better outcome. Including number of rich club regions in the backward selection models of outcome, R increased between 1.3- and 2.6-fold beyond that of traditional markers (age and acute lesion volume) for NIHSS and modified Rankin Scale score. Conclusions- In this proof-of-concept study, we showed that information on network topology can be leveraged to improve modeling of poststroke functional outcome. Future studies are warranted to validate this approach in larger prospective studies of outcome prediction in stroke.
    Schirmer MD, Ktena SI, Nardin MJ, Donahue KL, Giese A-K, Etherton MR, Wu O, Rost NS. Rich-Club Organization: An Important Determinant of Functional Outcome After Acute Ischemic Stroke. Front Neurol 2019;10:956.Abstract
    To determine whether the rich-club organization, essential for information transport in the human connectome, is an important biomarker of functional outcome after acute ischemic stroke (AIS). Consecutive AIS patients ( = 344) with acute brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (<48 h) were eligible for this study. Each patient underwent a clinical MRI protocol, which included diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). All DWIs were registered to a template on which rich-club regions have been defined. Using manual outlines of stroke lesions, we automatically counted the number of affected rich-club regions and assessed its effect on the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) and modified Rankin Scale (mRS; obtained at 90 days post-stroke) scores through ordinal regression. Of 344 patients (median age 65, inter-quartile range 54-76 years) with a median DWI lesion volume (DWIv) of 3cc, 64% were male. We established that an increase in number of rich-club regions affected by a stroke increases the odds of poor stroke outcome, measured by NIHSS (OR: 1.77, 95%CI 1.41-2.21) and mRS (OR: 1.38, 95%CI 1.11-1.73). Additionally, we demonstrated that the OR exceeds traditional markers, such as DWIv (OR 1.08, 95%CI 1.06-1.11; OR 1.05, 95%CI 1.03-1.07) and age (OR 1.03, 95%CI 1.01-1.05; OR 1.05, 95%CI 1.03-1.07). In this proof-of-concept study, the number of rich-club nodes affected by a stroke lesion presents a translational biomarker of stroke outcome, which can be readily assessed using standard clinical AIS imaging protocols and considered in functional outcome prediction models beyond traditional factors.
    Threlkeld ZD, Bodien YG, Rosenthal ES, Giacino JT, Nieto-Castanon A, Wu O, Whitfield-Gabrieli S, Edlow BL. Functional networks reemerge during recovery of consciousness after acute severe traumatic brain injury. Cortex 2018;106:299-308.Abstract
    Integrity of the default mode network (DMN) is believed to be essential for human consciousness. However, the effects of acute severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) on DMN functional connectivity are poorly understood. Furthermore, the temporal dynamics of DMN reemergence during recovery of consciousness have not been studied longitudinally in patients with acute severe TBI. We performed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) to measure DMN connectivity in 17 patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with acute severe TBI and in 16 healthy control subjects. Eight patients returned for follow-up rs-fMRI and behavioral assessment six months post-injury. At each time point, we analyzed DMN connectivity by measuring intra-network correlations (i.e. positive correlations between DMN nodes) and inter-network anticorrelations (i.e. negative correlations between the DMN and other resting-state networks). All patients were comatose upon arrival to the ICU and had a disorder of consciousness (DoC) at the time of acute rs-fMRI (9.2 ± 4.6 days post-injury): 2 coma, 4 unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, 7 minimally conscious state, and 4 post-traumatic confusional state. We found that, while DMN anticorrelations were absent in patients with acute DoC, patients who recovered from coma to a minimally conscious or confusional state while in the ICU showed partially preserved DMN correlations. Patients who remained in coma or unresponsive wakefulness syndrome in the ICU showed no DMN correlations. All eight patients assessed longitudinally recovered beyond the confusional state by 6 months post-injury and showed normal DMN correlations and anticorrelations, indistinguishable from those of healthy subjects. Collectively, these findings suggest that recovery of consciousness after acute severe TBI is associated with partial preservation of DMN correlations in the ICU, followed by long-term normalization of DMN correlations and anticorrelations. Both intra-network DMN correlations and inter-network DMN anticorrelations may be necessary for full recovery of consciousness after acute severe TBI.
    van der Zijden JP, Wu O, van der Toorn A, Roeling TP, Bleys RL, Dijkhuizen RM. Changes in neuronal connectivity after stroke in rats as studied by serial manganese-enhanced MRI. Neuroimage 2007;34(4):1650-7.Abstract
    Loss of function and subsequent spontaneous recovery after stroke have been associated with physiological and anatomical alterations in neuronal networks in the brain. However, the spatiotemporal pattern of such changes has been incompletely characterized. Manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) provides a unique tool for in vivo investigation of neuronal connectivity. In this study, we measured manganese-induced changes in longitudinal relaxation rate, R(1), to assess the spatiotemporal pattern of manganese distribution after focal injection into the intact sensorimotor cortex in control rats (n=10), and in rats at 2 weeks after 90-min unilateral occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (n=10). MEMRI data were compared with results from conventional tract tracing with wheat-germ agglutinin horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP). Distinct areas of the sensorimotor pathway were clearly visualized with MEMRI. At 2 weeks after stroke, manganese-induced changes in R(1) were significantly delayed and diminished in the ipsilateral caudate putamen, thalamus and substantia nigra. Loss of connectivity between areas of the sensorimotor network was also identified from reduced WGA-HRP staining in these areas on post-mortem brain sections. This study demonstrates that MEMRI enables in vivo assessment of spatiotemporal alterations in neuronal connectivity after stroke, which may lead to improved insights in mechanisms underlying functional loss and recovery after stroke.