The aim of the current study was to assess the structural centrality and microstructural integrity of the cortical hubs of the salience network, the anterior insular cortex (AIC) subregions and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and their relationship to cognitive and affective impairment in PD. MRI of 53 PD patients and 15 age-matched controls included 3D-T1 for anatomical registration, and diffusion tensor imaging for probabilistic tractography. Network topological measures of eigenvector and betweenness centrality were calculated for ventral (vAI) and dorsal (dAI) AIC. Microstructural tract integrity between vAI, dAI and the ACC was quantified with fractional anisotrophy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD). Structural integrity and connectivity were related to cognitive and affective scores. The dAI had significantly higher eigenvector centrality in PD than controls (p < 0.01), associated with higher depression scores (left dAI only, rs = 0.28, p < 0.05). Tracts between dAI and ACC showed lower FA and higher MD in PD (p < 0.05), and associated with lower semantic fluency, working memory and executive functioning, and higher anxiety scores (range 0.002 < p < 0.05). This study provides evidence for clinically relevant structural damage to the cortical hubs of the salience network in PD, possibly due to extensive local neuropathology and loss of interconnecting AIC-ACC tracts.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to express their gratitude to the patients in this study. This study was supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF-009210), and Stichting Parkinson Fonds (SPF 38000, project number: 105475).
© 2021, The Author(s).