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Abnormal resting-state functional connectivity of amygdala subregions in patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Authors Yu H, Chen L, Li H, Xin H, Zhang J, Wei Z, Peng D

Received 19 October 2018

Accepted for publication 1 March 2019

Published 17 April 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 977—987


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jun Chen

Honghui Yu,1 Liting Chen,2 Haijun Li,1 Huizhen Xin,1 Juan Zhang,1 Zhipeng Wei,1 Dechang Peng1

1Department of Radiology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Radiology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Jinan University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, People’s Republic of China

Background: The amygdala is one of the core areas of the emotional circuits. Previous neuroimaging studies have revealed that patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have aberrant structure and function in several brain areas (including the amygdala). However, the resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) of amgydala subregions remains uncertain.
Objective: To determine whether aberrant rs-FC exists between the amygdala subregions and other brain areas and whether such abnormalities are related to emotional disorders and cognitive impairment in OSA.
Methods: The resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data of 40 male severe OSA patients and 40 matched healthy controls (HCs) were collected. The rs-FC between the amygdala subregions and other brain areas was compared between the two groups. The correlations between aberrant rs-FC and clinical variables and neuropsychological assessments were evaluated.
Results: Compared with the HCs, the OSA patients showed significantly increased rs-FC between the left dorsal amygdala (DA) and the anterior lobe of the cerebellum, among the left ventrolateral amygdala (VA), the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and the left superior temporal gyrus (STG), and between the right VA and the left IFG. However, significantly decreased rs-FC was observed between the right DA and the right prefrontal cortex (PFC) in OSA patients. No regional differences in rs-FC were found between the OSA patients and HCs in the bilateral medial amygdala (MA).
Conclusion: In this study, male severe OSA patients showed complex rs-FC patterns in the amygdala subregions, which may be the result of OSA-related selective damage to the amygdala, and abnormal rs-FC between the amygdala subregions and brain regions associated with emotional, cognitive and executive functions may partly explain the affective deficits and cognitive impairment observed in male severe OSA patients.

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea, amygdala subregion, resting-state functional connectivity, functional magnetic resonance imaging, blood oxygen-level-dependent

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