Jia-Xing Cheng and Hong-Ying Zhang are joint first authors.
Brain consists of plenty of complicated cytoarchitecture. Gaussian-model based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is far from satisfactory interpretation of the structural complexity. Diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) is a tool to determine brain non-Gaussian diffusion properties. We investigated the network properties of DKI parameters in the whole brain using graph theory and further detected the alterations of the DKI networks in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Magnetic resonance DKI scanning was performed on 21 AD patients and 19 controls. Brain networks were constructed by the correlation matrices of 90 regions and analyzed through graph theoretical approaches.
We found small world characteristics of DKI networks not only in the normal subjects but also in the AD patients; Grey matter networks of AD patients tended to be a less optimized network. Moreover, the divergent small world network features were shown in the AD white matter networks, which demonstrated increased shortest paths and decreased global efficiency with fiber tractography but decreased shortest paths and increased global efficiency with other DKI metrics. In addition, AD patients showed reduced nodal centrality predominantly in the default mode network areas. Finally, the DKI networks were more closely associated with cognitive impairment than the DTI networks.
Our results suggest that DKI might be superior to DTI and could serve as a novel approach to understand the pathogenic mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases.