ApoE4 effects on the structural covariance brain networks topology in Mild Cognitive Impairment


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
ApoE4 effects on the structural covariance brain networks topology in Mild Cognitive Impairment
Sanabria Diaz Gretel
Kherif Ferath
Demonet Jean-Francois
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
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The Apolipoprotein E isoform E4 (ApoE4) is consistently associated with an elevated risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD). However, little is known about his potential genetic modulation on the structural covariance brain networks during prodromal stages like Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The covariance phenomenon is based on the observation that regions correlating in morphometric descriptors are often part of the same brain system.
In a first study, I assessed the ApoE4-related changes on the brain network topology in 256 MCI patients, using the regional cortical thickness to define the covariance network. The cross-sectional sample selected from the ADNI database was subdivided into ApoE4-positive (Carriers) and negative (non-Carriers). At the group-level, the results showed a significant decrease in characteristic path length, clustering index, local efficiency, global connectivity, modularity, and increased global efficiency for Carriers compared to non-Carriers. Overall, I found that ApoE4 in MCI shaped the topological organization of cortical thickness covariance networks.
In the second project, I investigated the impact of ApoE4 on the single-subject gray matter networks in a sample of 200 MCI from the ADNI database. The patients were classified based on clinical outcome (stable MCI versus converters to AD) and ApoE4 status (Carriers versus non-Carriers). The effects of ApoE4 and disease progression on the network measures at baseline and rate of change were explored. The topological network attributes were correlated with AD biomarkers. The main findings showed that gray matter network topology is affected independently by ApoE4 and the disease progression (to AD) in late-MCI. The network measures alterations showed a more random organization in Carriers compared to non-Carriers.
Finally, as additional research, I investigated whether a network-based approach combined with the graph theory is able to detect cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) changes in MCI. Our findings suggest that this experimental approach is more sensitive to identifying subtle cerebrovascular alterations than the classical experimental designs. This study paves the way for a future investigation on the ApoE4-cerebrovascular interaction effects on the brain networks during AD progression.
In summary, my thesis results provide evidence of the value of the structural covariance brain network measures to capture subtle neurodegenerative changes associated with ApoE4 in MCI. Together with other biomarkers, these variables may help predict disease progression, providing additional reliable intermediate phenotypes.
ApoE4, MCI, AD, brain networks, graph theory, MRI
Create date
23/03/2021 12:57
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07/05/2021 6:10
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