Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions worldwide, causing mortality and multi-organ morbidity. Neurological complications have been recognized. This study aimed to assess brain structural, microstructural, and connectivity alterations in patients with COVID-19-related olfactory or cognitive impairment using post-acute (time from onset: 264[208-313] days) multi-directional diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI). Methods: The study included 16 COVID-19 patients with cognitive impairment (COVID-CM), 35 COVID-19 patients with olfactory disorder (COVID-OD), and 14 controls. A state-of-the-art processing pipeline was developed for DW-MRI pre-processing, mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy computation, fiber density and cross-section analysis, and tractography of white-matter bundles. Brain parcellation required for probing network connectivity, region-specific microstructure and volume, and cortical thickness was based on T1-weighted scans and anatomical atlases. Results: Compared to controls, COVID-CM patients showed overall gray matter atrophy (age and sex corrected p = 0.004), and both COVID-19 patient groups showed regional atrophy and cortical thinning. Both groups presented an increase in gray matter mean diffusivity (corrected p = 0.001), decrease in white matter fiber density and cross-section (corrected p < 0.05), , and COVID-CM patients also displayed an overall increased diffusivity (p = 0.022) and decreased anisotropy (corrected p = 0.038) in white matter. Graph-based analysis revealed reduced network modularity, with an extensive pattern of connectivity increase, in conjunction with a localized reduction in a few connections, mainly located in the left hemisphere. The left cingulate, anterior cingulate, and insula were primarily involved. Conclusion: Expanding upon previous findings, this study further investigated significant alterations in brain morphology, microstructure, and connectivity in COVID-19 patients with olfactory or cognitive disfunction. These findings suggest underlying neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, and concomitant compensatory mechanisms. Future longitudinal studies are required to monitor the alterations over time and assess their transient or permanent nature.

Brain microstructure and connectivity in COVID-19 patients with olfactory or cognitive impairment

Bosticardo, Sara;Daducci, Alessandro;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions worldwide, causing mortality and multi-organ morbidity. Neurological complications have been recognized. This study aimed to assess brain structural, microstructural, and connectivity alterations in patients with COVID-19-related olfactory or cognitive impairment using post-acute (time from onset: 264[208-313] days) multi-directional diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI). Methods: The study included 16 COVID-19 patients with cognitive impairment (COVID-CM), 35 COVID-19 patients with olfactory disorder (COVID-OD), and 14 controls. A state-of-the-art processing pipeline was developed for DW-MRI pre-processing, mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy computation, fiber density and cross-section analysis, and tractography of white-matter bundles. Brain parcellation required for probing network connectivity, region-specific microstructure and volume, and cortical thickness was based on T1-weighted scans and anatomical atlases. Results: Compared to controls, COVID-CM patients showed overall gray matter atrophy (age and sex corrected p = 0.004), and both COVID-19 patient groups showed regional atrophy and cortical thinning. Both groups presented an increase in gray matter mean diffusivity (corrected p = 0.001), decrease in white matter fiber density and cross-section (corrected p < 0.05), , and COVID-CM patients also displayed an overall increased diffusivity (p = 0.022) and decreased anisotropy (corrected p = 0.038) in white matter. Graph-based analysis revealed reduced network modularity, with an extensive pattern of connectivity increase, in conjunction with a localized reduction in a few connections, mainly located in the left hemisphere. The left cingulate, anterior cingulate, and insula were primarily involved. Conclusion: Expanding upon previous findings, this study further investigated significant alterations in brain morphology, microstructure, and connectivity in COVID-19 patients with olfactory or cognitive disfunction. These findings suggest underlying neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, and concomitant compensatory mechanisms. Future longitudinal studies are required to monitor the alterations over time and assess their transient or permanent nature.
2024
Brain Connectivity
Brain Microstructure
COVID-19
Diffusion-weighted MRI
Neurodegeneration
Neuroinflammation
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1130067
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact