Multitier Network Analysis Using Resting-State Functional MRI for Epilepsy Surgery

Satoshi Maesawa, Epifanio Bagarinao, Daisuke Nakatsubo, Tomotaka Ishizaki, Sou Takai, Jun Torii, Sachiko Kato, Masashi Shibata, Toshihiko Wakabayashi, Ryuta Saito


Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) has been utilized to visualize large-scale brain networks. We evaluated the usefulness of multitier network analysis using rs-fMRI in patients with focal epilepsy. Structural and rs-fMRI data were retrospectively evaluated in 20 cases with medically refractory focal epilepsy, who subsequently underwent surgery. First, structural changes were examined using voxel-based morphometry analysis. Second, alterations in large-scale networks were evaluated using dual-regression analysis. Third, changes in cortical hubs were analyzed and the relationship between aberrant hubs and the epileptogenic zone (EZ) was evaluated. Finally, the relationship between the hubs and the default mode network (DMN) was examined using spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM). Dual-regression analysis revealed significant decrease in functional connectivity in several networks including DMN in patients, although no structural difference was seen between groups. Aberrant cortical hubs were observed in and around the EZ (EZ hubs) in 85% of the patients, and a strong degree of EZ hubs correlated to good seizure outcomes postoperatively. In spDCM analysis, facilitation was often seen from the EZ hub to the contralateral side, while inhibition was seen from the EZ hub to nodes of the DMN. Some cognition-related networks were impaired in patients with focal epilepsy. The EZ hub appeared in the vicinity of EZ facilitating connections to distant regions in the early phase, which may eventually generate secondary focus, while inhibiting connections to the DMN, which may cause cognitive deterioration. Our results demonstrate pathological network alterations in epilepsy and suggest that earlier surgical intervention may be more effective.

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