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Ortner, Marion; Pasquini, Lorenzo; Barat, Martina; Alexopoulos, Panagiotis; Grimmer, Timo; Förster, Stefan; Diehl-Schmid, Janine; Kurz, Alexander; Förstl, Hans; Zimmer, Claus; Wohlschläger, Afra; Sorg, Christian; Peters, Henning (2016): Progressively Disrupted intrinsic Functional connectivity of Basolateral amygdala in Very early alzheimer's Disease. In: Frontiers in Neurology, Vol. 7, 132


Very early Alzheimer's disease (AD)-i.e., AD at stages of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild dementia - is characterized by progressive structural and neuropathologic changes, such as atrophy or tangle deposition in medial temporal lobes, including hippocampus and entorhinal cortex and also adjacent amygdala. While progressively disrupted intrinsic connectivity of hippocampus with other brain areas has been demonstrated by many studies, amygdala connectivity was rarely investigated in AD, notwithstanding its known relevance for emotion processing and mood disturbances, which are both important in early AD. Intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) patterns of hippocampus and amygdala overlap in healthy persons. Thus, we hypothesized that increased alteration of iFC patterns along AD is not limited to the hippocampus but also concerns the amygdala, independent from atrophy. To address this hypothesis, we applied structural and functional resting-state MRI in healthy controls (CON, n = 33) and patients with AD in the stages of MCI (AD-MCI, n = 38) and mild dementia (AD-D, n = 36). Outcome measures were voxel-based morphometry (VBM) values and region-of-interest-based iFC maps of basolateral amygdala, which has extended cortical connectivity. Amygdala VBM values were progressively reduced in patients (CON > AD-MCI and AD-D). Amygdala iFC was progressively reduced along impairment severity (CON > AD-MCI > AD-D), particularly for hippocampus, temporal lobes, and fronto-parietal areas. Notably, decreased iFC was independent of amygdala atrophy. Results demonstrate progressively impaired amygdala intrinsic connectivity in temporal and fronto-parietal lobes independent from increasing amygdala atrophy in very early AD. Data suggest that early AD disrupts intrinsic connectivity of medial temporal lobe key regions, including that of amygdala.