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Evidence of age-related hemodynamic and functional connectivity impairment: a resting state fMRI study

Kavroulakis Eleftherios, Simos Nikolaos-Ioannis, Maris Thomas G., Zaganas, Ioannis, Panagiotakis Simeon, Papadaki Efrosini

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Year 2021
Type of Item Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication
Bibliographic Citation E. Kavroulakis, N. J. Simos, T.G. Maris, I. Zaganas, S. Panagiotakis and E. Papadaki, “Evidence of age-related hemodynamic and functional connectivity impairment: a resting state fMRI study,” Front. Neurol., vol. 12, Mar. 2021, doi: 10.3389/fneur.2021.633500.
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Purpose: To assess age-related changes in intrinsic functional brain connectivity and hemodynamics during adulthood in the context of the retrogenesis hypothesis, which states that the rate of age-related changes is higher in late-myelinating (prefrontal, lateral-posterior temporal) cerebrocortical areas as compared to early myelinating (parietal, occipital) regions. In addition, to examine the dependence of age-related changes upon concurrent subclinical depression symptoms which are common even in healthy aging.Methods: Sixty-four healthy adults (28 men) aged 23–79 years (mean 45.0, SD = 18.8 years) were examined. Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) time series were used to compute voxel-wise intrinsic connectivity contrast (ICC) maps reflecting the strength of functional connectivity between each voxel and the rest of the brain. We further used Time Shift Analysis (TSA) to estimate voxel-wise hemodynamic lead or lag for each of 22 ROIs from the automated anatomical atlas (AAL).Results: Adjusted for depression symptoms, gender and education level, reduced ICC with age was found primarily in frontal, temporal regions, and putamen, whereas the opposite trend was noted in inferior occipital cortices (p < 0.002). With the same covariates, increased hemodynamic lead with advancing age was found in superior frontal cortex and thalamus, with the opposite trend in inferior occipital cortex (p < 0.002). There was also evidence of reduced coupling between voxel-wise intrinsic connectivity and hemodynamics in the inferior parietal cortex.Conclusion: Age-related intrinsic connectivity reductions and hemodynamic changes were demonstrated in several regions—most of them part of DMN and salience networks—while impaired neurovascular coupling was, also, found in parietal regions. Age-related reductions in intrinsic connectivity were greater in anterior as compared to posterior cortices, in line with implications derived from the retrogenesis hypothesis. These effects were affected by self-reported depression symptoms, which also increased with age.

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