Brain Commun. 2023 Sep 30;5(5):fcad254. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcad254. eCollection 2023.
Mild traumatic brain injury can cause different degrees of cognitive impairment and abnormal brain structure and functional connectivity, but there is still a lack of research on the functional connectivity and topological organization of cerebral blood flow fluctuations. This study explored the cerebral blood flow, functional connectivity and topological organization of the cerebral blood flow network in acute mild traumatic brain injury patients. In total, 48 mild traumatic brain injury patients and 46 well-matched healthy controls underwent resting-state arterial spin labelling perfusion MRI and neuropsychological assessments. The functional connectivity and topological organization of the cerebral blood flow network were analysed. Then, the correlation between the changes in cerebral blood flow network characteristics and cognitive function was explored. Acute mild traumatic brain injury patients showed decreased cerebral blood flow in the right insula and increased cerebral blood flow in the right inferior temporal gyrus and left superior temporal gyrus. Abnormal cerebral blood flow network connection patterns mainly occur in sensorimotor network, default mode network, cingulo-opercular network and occipital network-related regions. Furthermore, mild traumatic brain injury disrupted the topological organization of the whole brain, which manifested as (i) reduced global efficiency; (ii) abnormal degree centrality, betweenness centrality, nodal clustering coefficient and nodal efficiency; and (iii) decreased intermodular connectivity between the occipital network and sensorimotor network. Finally, the change in network topology was correlated with the cognitive score of the mild traumatic brain injury. This study provided evidence of abnormal functional connectivity and network topology based on cerebral blood flow in acute mild traumatic brain injury patients, revealing their potential use as early markers for mild traumatic brain injury, which may contribute to both disease diagnosis and assessment.