Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.655927
Title: Connectivity biomarkers in neurodegenerative tauopathies
Author: Rittman, Timothy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 0900
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2015
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Abstract:
The primary tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative diseases affecting movement and cognition. In this thesis I study Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and the Corticobasal Syndrome (CBS), two parkinsonian disorders associated with accumulation of hyperphos- phorylated and abnormally folded tau protein. I contrast these two disorders with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which is associated with the accumulation of alpha-synuclein but has a genetic association with the MAPT gene encoding tau. Understanding the tauopathies to develop effective treatments will require a better grasp of the relationships between clinical syndromes and cognitive measures and how the anatomical and neurochemical networks that underlie clinical features might be altered by disease. I investigate simple clinical biomarkers, showing that a two-minute test of verbal fluency is a potential diagnostic biomarker to distinguish between PD and PSP and that the ACE-R and its subscores could play a role in monitoring cognition over time in PD, PSP and CBS. I assess the implementation of network analysis in Functional Mag- netic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data, introduce Maybrain software for graphical network analysis and visualisation. I go on to show an overlap between graph theory network measures and I identify three main factors underlying graph network measures of: efficiency and distance, hub characteristics, network community measures. I apply these measures in PD, PSP and the CBS. All three diseases caused a loss of functional connectivity in com- parison to the control group that was concentrated in more highly connected brain regions and in longer distance connections. In ad- dition, widely localised cognitive function of verbal fluency co-varied with the connection strength in highly connected regions across PD, PSP and CBS. To take this further, I investigated specific functional covariance networks. All three disease groups showed reduced connectivity between the basal ganglia network and other networks, and between the anterior salience network and other networks. Localised areas of increased co- variance suggest a breakdown of network boundaries which correlated with motor severity in PSP and CBS, and duration of disease in CBS. I explore the link between gene expression of the tau gene MAPT and its effects on functional connectivity showing that the expression of MAPT correlated with connection strength in highly connected hub regions that were more susceptible to a loss of connection strength in PD and PSP. I conclude by discussing how tau protein aggregates and soluble tau oligomers may explain the changes in functional brain networks. The primary tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative diseases affecting movement and cognition. In this thesis I study Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and the Corticobasal Syndrome (CBS), two parkinsonian disorders associated with accumulation of hyperphos- phorylated and abnormally folded tau protein. I contrast these two disorders with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which is associated with the accumulation of alpha-synuclein but has a genetic association with the MAPT gene encoding tau. Understanding the tauopathies to develop effective treatments will require a better grasp of the relationships between clinical syndromes and cognitive measures and how the anatomical and neurochemical networks that underlie clinical features might be altered by disease. I investigate simple clinical biomarkers, showing that a two-minute test of verbal fluency is a potential diagnostic biomarker to distinguish between PD and PSP and that the ACE-R and its subscores could play a role in monitoring cognition over time in PD, PSP and CBS. I assess the implementation of network analysis in Functional Mag- netic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data, introduce Maybrain software for graphical network analysis and visualisation. I go on to show an overlap between graph theory network measures and I identify three main factors underlying graph network measures of: efficiency and distance, hub characteristics, network community measures. I apply these measures in PD, PSP and the CBS. All three diseases caused a loss of functional connectivity in com- parison to the control group that was concentrated in more highly connected brain regions and in longer distance connections. In ad- dition, widely localised cognitive function of verbal fluency co-varied with the connection strength in highly connected regions across PD, PSP and CBS. To take this further, I investigated specific functional covariance networks. All three disease groups showed reduced connectivity between the basal ganglia network and other networks, and between the anterior salience network and other networks. Localised areas of increased co- variance suggest a breakdown of network boundaries which correlated with motor severity in PSP and CBS, and duration of disease in CBS. I explore the link between gene expression of the tau gene MAPT and its effects on functional connectivity showing that the expression of MAPT correlated with connection strength in highly connected hub regions that were more susceptible to a loss of connection strength in PD and PSP. I conclude by discussing how tau protein aggregates and soluble tau oligomers may explain the changes in functional brain networks.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Medical Research Council ; Sackler Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.655927  DOI:
Keywords: Neurodegeneration ; Neuroimaging ; Corticobasal syndrome ; Parkinson's disease ; Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
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