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Front Neurol. 2019 Oct 23;10:1111. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.01111. eCollection 2019.

What Kind of Brain Structural Connectivity Remodeling Can Relate to Residual Motor Function After Stroke?

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.
Brain and Mind Institute, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.


Recent findings showed that brain networks far away from a lesion could be altered to adapt changes after stroke. This study examined 13 chronic stroke patients with moderate to severe motor impairment and 13 age-comparable healthy controls using diffusion tensor imaging to investigate the stroke impact on the reorganization of structural connectivity. Each subject's brain was segmented into 68 cortical and 12 subcortical regions of interest (ROIs), and connectivity measures including fractional anisotropy (FA), regional FA (rFA), connection weight (CW) and connection strength (CS) were adopted to compare two subject groups. Correlations between these measures and clinical scores of motor functions (Action Research Arm Test and Fugl-Meyer Assessment for upper extremity) were done. Network-based statistic (NBS) was conducted to identify the connectivity differences between patients and controls from the perspective of whole-brain network. The results showed that both rFAs and CSs demonstrated significant differences between patients and controls in the ipsilesional sensory-motor areas and subcortical network, and bilateral attention and default mode networks. Significant positive correlations were found between the paretic motor functions and the rFAs/CSs of the contralesional medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), and remained significant even after removing the effect of the ipsilesional corticospinal tract. Additionally, all the connections linked with the contralesional mOFC and rACC showed significantly higher FA/CW values in the stroke patients compared to the healthy controls from the NBS results. These findings indicated that these contralesional prefrontal areas exhibited stronger connections after stroke and strongly related to the residual motor function of the stroke patients.


chronic stroke; connection strength; diffusion tensor imaging; fiber tractography; regional fractional anisotropy; structural remodeling

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