Alzheimer's disease (AD) causes the progressive deterioration of neural connections, disrupting structural connectivity (SC) networks within the brain. Graph-based analyses of SC networks have shown that topological properties can reveal the course of AD propagation. Different whole-brain parcellation schemes have been developed to define the nodes of these SC networks, although it remains unclear which scheme can best describe the AD-related deterioration of SC networks. In this study, four whole-brain parcellation schemes with different numbers of parcels were used to define SC network nodes. SC networks were constructed based on high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) tractography for a mixed cohort that includes 20 normal controls (NC), 20 early mild cognitive impairment (EMCI), 20 late mild cognitive impairment (LMCI), and 20 AD patients, from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Parcellation schemes investigated in this study include the OASIS-TRT-20 (62 regions), AAL (116 regions), HCP-MMP (180 regions), and Gordon-rsfMRI (333 regions), which have all been widely used for the construction of brain structural or functional connectivity networks. Topological characteristics of the SC networks, including the network strength, global efficiency, clustering coefficient, rich-club, characteristic path length, k-core, rich-club coefficient, and modularity, were fully investigated at the network level. Statistical analyses were performed on these metrics using Kruskal-Wallis tests to examine the group differences that were apparent at different stages of AD progression. Results suggest that the HCP-MMP scheme is the most robust and sensitive to AD progression, while the OASIS-TRT-20 scheme is sensitive to group differences in network strength, global efficiency, k-core, and rich-club coefficient at k-levels from 18 and 39. With the exception of the rich-club and modularity coefficients, AAL could not significantly identify group differences on other topological metrics. Further, the Gordon-rsfMRI atlas only significantly differentiates the groups on network strength, characteristic path length, k-core, and rich-club coefficient. Results show that the topological examination of SC networks with different parcellation schemes can provide important complementary AD-related information and thus contribute to a more accurate and earlier diagnosis of AD.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Fiber tracking
- High angular resolution diffusion imaging
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Structural connectivity network
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience