Longitudinal effects of lesions on functional networks after stroke.
Ovadia-Caro S., Villringer K., Fiebach J., Jungehulsing GJ., van der Meer E., Margulies DS., Villringer A.
While ischemic stroke reflects focal damage determined by the affected vascular territory, clinical symptoms are often more complex and may be better explained by additional indirect effects of the focal lesion. Assumed to be structurally underpinned by anatomical connections, supporting evidence has been found using alterations in the functional connectivity of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in both sensorimotor and attention networks. To assess the generalizability of this phenomenon in a stroke population with heterogeneous lesions, we investigated the distal effects of lesions on a global level. Longitudinal resting-state fMRI scans were acquired at three consecutive time points, beginning during the acute phase (days 1, 7, and 90 post-stroke) in 12 patients after ischemic stroke. We found a preferential functional change in affected networks (i.e., networks containing lesions changed more during recovery when compared with unaffected networks). This change in connectivity was significantly correlated with clinical changes assessed with the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale. Our results provide evidence that the functional architecture of large-scale networks is critical to understanding the clinical effect and trajectory of post-stroke recovery.