The mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) results in traumatic axonal injury, which damages the long-distance white matter (WM) connections and thus disrupts the functional connectome of large-scale brain networks that support cognitive function. Patterns of WM structural damage following mTBI were well documented using diffusion tensor imaging, however, the functional organization of WM and its association with grey matter functional networks (GM-FNs) and cognitive assessments remains unknown. The present study adopted resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore WM functional properties in mTBI patients (113 acute patients, 56 chronic patients, 47 healthy controls (HCs)). Eleven large-scale WM functional networks (WM-FNs) were constructed by the k-means clustering algorithm which carried out in voxel-wise WM functional connectivity (FC). Compared to HCs, acute mTBI patients showed enhanced FC between inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) WM-FN and primary sensorimotor WM-FNs, and cortical primary sensorimotor GM-FNs. And FC between IFOF WM-FN and anterior cerebellar GM-FN was positively correlated with information processing speed. Moreover, all of these WM-FNs abnormalities were returned to the normal level at the chronic stage. Our findings suggest the compensatory mechanism of cognitive deficits in the acute stage and its involvement in facilitating recovery from cognitive deficits in the chronic stage. The convergent damage of the IFOF network highlighted its key role in our understanding of the pathophysiology mechanism of mTBI patients and thus might be regarded as a biomarker in the acute stage and a potential indicator of treatment effect.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience