Structural network topology and microstructural alterations of the anterior insula associate with cognitive and affective impairment in Parkinson's disease

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The aim of the current study was to assess the structural centrality and microstructural integrity of the cortical hubs of the salience network, the anterior insular cortex (AIC) subregions and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and their relationship to cognitive and affective impairment in PD. MRI of 53 PD patients and 15 age-matched controls included 3D-T1 for anatomical registration, and diffusion tensor imaging for probabilistic tractography. Network topological measures of eigenvector and betweenness centrality were calculated for ventral (vAI) and dorsal (dAI) AIC. Microstructural tract integrity between vAI, dAI and the ACC was quantified with fractional anisotrophy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD). Structural integrity and connectivity were related to cognitive and affective scores. The dAI had significantly higher eigenvector centrality in PD than controls (p < 0.01), associated with higher depression scores (left dAI only, rs = 0.28, p < 0.05). Tracts between dAI and ACC showed lower FA and higher MD in PD (p < 0.05), and associated with lower semantic fluency, working memory and executive functioning, and higher anxiety scores (range 0.002 < p < 0.05). This study provides evidence for clinically relevant structural damage to the cortical hubs of the salience network in PD, possibly due to extensive local neuropathology and loss of interconnecting AIC-ACC tracts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16021
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2021


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Mapping
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/etiology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Executive Function/physiology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli/pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders/etiology
  • Neural Pathways
  • Parkinson Disease/complications

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