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Research paper
Aberrant interhemispheric homotopic functional and structural connectivity in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  1. Jiuquan Zhang1,2,
  2. Bing Ji2,
  3. Jun Hu3,
  4. Chaoyang Zhou1,
  5. Longchuan Li2,4,
  6. Zhihao Li5,
  7. Xuequan Huang1,
  8. Xiaoping Hu6
  1. 1Department of Radiology, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, P.R. China
  2. 2Biomedical Imaging Technology Center, Emory University/Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Department of Neurology, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, P.R. China
  4. 4Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5Institute of Affective and Social Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Guangdong, P.R. China
  6. 6Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Xuequan Huang, Department of Radiology, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, P.R. China; huang_xq66{at} or Professor Zhihao Li, Institute of affective and Social Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, Guangdong, P.R. China; zhihao_li{at}


Objective Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an idiopathic and fatal neurodegenerative disease of the human motor system. While microstructural alterations in corpus callosum (CC) have been identified as a consistent feature of ALS, studies directly examining interhemispheric neural connectivity are still lacking. To shed more light on the pathophysiology of ALS, the present study aims to examine alterations of interhemispheric structural and functional connectivity in individuals with ALS.

Methods Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and resting-state functional MRI (rfMRI) data were acquired from 38 individuals with ALS and 35 gender-matched and age-matched control subjects. Indices of interhemispheric functional and structural neural connection were derived with analyses of voxel mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC) and probabilistic fibre tracking.

Results The rfMRI has revealed extensive reductions of VMHC associated with ALS in brain regions of the precentral and postcentral gyrus, the paracentral lobule, the superior temporal gyrus, the middle cingulate gyrus, the putamen and the superior parietal lobules. With DTI, the analysis has also revealed reductions of interhemispheric structural connectivity through the CC subregions II, III and V in patients with ALS. Additionally, interhemispheric functional connectivity of the bilateral precentral gyri positively correlated with fractional anisotropy values of the CC subregion III, which structurally connects the bilateral motor cortices.

Conclusions The present data provided direct evidence confirming and extending the view of impaired interhemispheric neural communications mediated by CC, providing a new perspective for examinations and understanding the pathophysiology of ALS.

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  • JQZ and BJ contributed equally to this study.

  • Contributors JQZ, ZHL, XQH and XPH conceived and designed the experiments. JQZ, JH and CYZ performed the experiments. JQZ and BJ analysed the data. JQZ, BJ, LCL and ZHL contributed to reagents/materials/analysis tools. JQZ and BJ contributed by writing the manuscript. JQZ, JH and CYZ collected the data.

  • Funding This work was supported by funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 81200882, 31671169), the Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (grant number CSTC2016jcyjA2163) and the Natural Science Foundation of SZU (grant number 201564, 000099).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The Medical Research Ethics Committee of the Southwest Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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