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Altered Relationship Between Heart Rate Variability and fMRI-Based Functional Connectivity in People With Epilepsy

Abstract : Background: Disruptions in central autonomic processes in people with epilepsy have been studied through evaluation of heart rate variability (HRV). Decreased HRV appears in epilepsy compared to healthy controls, suggesting a shift in autonomic balance toward sympathetic dominance; recent studies have associated HRV changes with seizure severity and outcome of interventions. However, the processes underlying these autonomic changes remain unclear. We examined the nature of these changes by assessing alterations in whole-brain functional connectivity, and relating those alterations to HRV. Methods: We examined regional brain activity and functional organization in 28 drug-resistant epilepsy patients and 16 healthy controls using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We employed an HRV state-dependent functional connectivity (FC) framework with low and high HRV states derived from the following four cardiac-related variables: 1. RR interval, 2. root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), 4. low-frequency HRV (0.04–0.15 Hz; LF-HRV) and high-frequency HRV (0.15–0.40 Hz; HF-HRV). The effect of group (epilepsy vs. controls), HRV state (low vs. high) and the interactions of group and state were assessed using a mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA). We assessed FC within and between 7 large-scale functional networks consisting of cortical regions and 4 subcortical networks, the amygdala, hippocampus, basal ganglia and thalamus networks. Results: Consistent with previous studies, decreased RR interval (increased heart rate) and decreased HF-HRV appeared in people with epilepsy compared to healthy controls. For both groups, fluctuations in heart rate were positively correlated with BOLD activity in bilateral thalamus and regions of the cerebellum, and negatively correlated with BOLD activity in the insula, putamen, superior temporal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus. Connectivity strength in patients between right thalamus and ventral attention network (mainly insula) increased in the high LF-HRV state compared to low LF-HRV; the opposite trend appeared in healthy controls. A similar pattern emerged for connectivity between the thalamus and basal ganglia. Conclusion: The findings suggest that resting connectivity patterns between the thalamus and other structures underlying HRV expression are modified in people with drug-resistant epilepsy compared to healthy controls.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 23, 2021 - 7:54:20 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 5, 2022 - 3:39:53 AM

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Michalis Kassinopoulos, Ronald Harper, Maxime Guye, Louis Lemieux, Beate Diehl. Altered Relationship Between Heart Rate Variability and fMRI-Based Functional Connectivity in People With Epilepsy. Frontiers in Neurology, Frontiers, 2021, 12, ⟨10.3389/fneur.2021.671890⟩. ⟨hal-03501141⟩

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