Although anomalies in the topological architecture of whole-brain connectivity have been found to be associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), our understanding about the progression of AD in a functional connectivity (FC) perspective is still rudimentary and few study has explored the function-structure relations in brain networks of AD patients. By using restingstate functional MRI (fMRI), this study firstly investigated organizational alternations in FC networks in 12 AD patients, 15 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) patients, and 14 age-matched healthy aging subjects and found that all three groups exhibit economical small-world network properties. Nonetheless, we found a decline of the optimal architecture in the progression of AD, represented by a more localized modular organization with less efficient local information transfer. Our results also show that aMCI forms a boundary between normal aging and AD and represents a functional continuum between healthy aging and the earliest signs of dementia. Moreover, we revealed a dissociated relationship between the overall FC and structural connectivity (SC) in AD patients. In this study, diffusion tensor imaging tractography was used to map the structural network of the same individuals. The decreased FC-SC coupling may be indicative of more stringent and less dynamic brain function in AD patients. Our findings provided insightful implications for understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms of brain dysfunctions in aMCI and AD patients and demonstrated that functional disorders can be characterized by multimodal neuroimaging-based metrics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas