Decreased Functional Connectivity of Homotopic Brain Regions in Chronic Stroke Patients: A Resting State fMRI Study.PLoS One. 2016; 11(4):e0152875.Plos
The recovery of motor functions is accompanied by brain reorganization, and identifying the inter-hemispheric interaction post stroke will conduce to more targeted treatments. However, the alterations of bi-hemispheric coordination pattern between homologous areas in the whole brain for chronic stroke patients were still unclear. The present study focuses on the functional connectivity (FC) of mirror regions of the whole brain to investigate the inter-hemispheric interaction using a new fMRI method named voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC). Thirty left subcortical chronic stroke patients with pure motor deficits and 37 well-matched healthy controls (HCs) underwent resting-state fMRI scans. We employed a VMHC analysis to determine the brain areas showed significant differences between groups in FC between homologous regions, and we explored the relationships between the mean VMHC of each survived area and clinical tests within patient group using Pearson correlation. In addition, the brain areas showed significant correlations between the mean VMHC and clinical tests were defined as the seed regions for whole brain FC analysis. Relative to HCs, patients group displayed lower VMHC in the precentral gyrus, postcentral gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, calcarine gyrus, thalamus, cerebellum anterior lobe, and cerebellum posterior lobe (CPL). Moreover, the VMHC of CPL was positively correlated with the Fugl-Meyer Score of hand (FMA-H), while a negative correlation between illness duration and the VMHC of this region was also detected. Furthermore, we found that when compared with HCs, the right CPL exhibited reduced FC with the left precentral gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, middle temporal gyrus, thalamus and hippocampus. Our results suggest that the functional coordination across hemispheres is impaired in chronic stroke patients, and increased VMHC of the CPL is significantly associated with higher FMA-H scores. These findings may be helpful in understanding the mechanism of hand deficit after stroke, and the CPL may serve as a target region for hand rehabilitation following stroke.