rTMS Modulates Precuneus-Hippocampal Subregion Circuit in Patients with Subjective Cognitive Decline


Aging. 13(1):1314-1331, 2020 11 30.

Chen J; Ma N; Hu G; Nousayhah A; Xue C; Qi W; Xu W; Chen S; Rao J; Liu W; Zhang F; Zhang X

Hippocampal subregions (HIPsub) and their network connectivities are generally aberrant in patients with subjective cognitive decline (SCD). This study aimed to investigate whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) could ameliorate HIPsub network connectivity by modulating one node of HIPsub network in SCD. In the first cohort, the functional connectivity (FC) of three HIPsub (i.e., hippocampal emotional, cognitive, and perceptual regions: HIPe, HIPc, and HIPp) were analyzed so as to identify alterations in HIPsub connectivity associated with SCD. Afterwards, a support vector machine (SVM) approach was applied using the alterations in order to evaluate to what extent we could distinguish SCD from healthy controls (CN). In the second cohort, a 2-week rTMS course of 5-day, once-daily, was used to activate the altered HIPsub network connectivity in a sham-controlled design. SCD subjects exhibited distinct patterns alterations of HIPsub network connectivity compared to CN in the first cohort. SVM classifier indicated that the abnormalities had a high power to discriminate SCD from CN, with 92.9% area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), 86.0% accuracy, 83.8% sensitivity and 89.1% specificity. In the second cohort, changes of HIPc connectivity with the left parahippocampal gyrus and HIPp connectivity with the left middle temporal gyrus demonstrated an amelioration of episodic memory in SCD after rTMS. In addition, SCD exhibited improved episodic memory after the rTMS course. rTMS therapy could improve the posterior hippocampus connectivity by modulating the precuneus in SCD. Simultaneous correction of the breakdown in HIPc and HIPp could ameliorate episodic memory in SCD. Thus, these findings suggested that rTMS manipulation of precuneus-hippocampal circuit might prevent disease progression by improving memory as the earliest at-risk state of Alzheimer’s disease in clinical trials and in practice.