BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) impairs signal transmission along cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical connections, affecting functional integration within the motor network. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during motor tasks has revealed altered functional connectivity in MS, but it is unclear how much motor disability contributed to these abnormal functional interaction patterns. OBJECTIVE: To avoid any influence of impaired task performance, we examined disease-related changes in functional motor connectivity in MS at rest. METHODS: A total of 42 patients with MS and 30 matched controls underwent a 20-minute resting-state fMRI session at 3 Tesla. Independent component analysis was applied to the fMRI data to identify disease-related changes in motor resting-state connectivity. RESULTS: Patients with MS showed a spatial expansion of motor resting-state connectivity in deep subcortical nuclei but not at the cortical level. The anterior and middle parts of the putamen, adjacent globus pallidus, anterior and posterior thalamus and the subthalamic region showed stronger functional connectivity with the motor network in the MS group compared with controls. CONCLUSION: MS is characterised by more widespread motor connectivity in the basal ganglia while cortical motor resting-state connectivity is preserved. The expansion of subcortical motor resting-state connectivity in MS indicates less efficient funnelling of neural processing in the executive motor cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loops.
Multiple Sclerosis, 2013, Vol 19, Issue 5, p. 559-566