Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1466–1478 | Cite as

Altered topological patterns of brain functional networks in Crohn’s disease

  • Peng LiuEmail author
  • Ru Li
  • Chunhui Bao
  • Ying Wei
  • Yingying Fan
  • Yanfei Liu
  • Geliang Wang
  • Huangan WuEmail author
  • Wei QinEmail author


Crohn’s disease (CD) has been reported to relate with the functional and structural alterations in several local brain regions. However, it remains unknown whether the possible abnormalities of information transmission and integration between brain regions are associated with CD. The purpose of this study was to investigate the topological alterations of brain functional networks and the potential relationships between the neuroimaging findings and CD clinical characteristics. 43 remissive CD patients and 37 matched healthy controls (HCs) were recruited to obtain their resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. Independent component analysis was applied to decompose fMRI data for building brain functional networks. The local and global topological properties of networks and connectivity of brain regions were computed within each group. We then examined the relationships between the topological patterns and CD clinical characteristics. Compared to HCs, CD patients exhibited disrupted local and global topological patterns of brain functional networks including the decreased nodal graph metrics in the subcortical, sensorimotor, cognitive control and default-mode networks and dysfunctional interactions within and among these four networks. The connectivity strength of putamen negatively correlated with CD duration in patients. Moreover, CD patients with high level of anxiety and/or depression had altered local topological patterns associated with anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) compared to other patients. By revealing CD-related changes in topological patterns of brain functional networks, our findings provide further neuroimaging evidence on the pathophysiology of CD involved in pain, sensory, emotional and/or cognitive processing.


Brain functional network Topological alterations Crohn’s disease Magnetic resonance imaging 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 81,471,738, 81,771,918, 81,471,811, and the National Basic Research Program of China, Nos. 2009CB522900, 2015CB554501, 2014CB543203 and 2015CB856403, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and were approved by the local hospital subcommittee on human studies. All participants signed informed consent forms prior to the investigation. The methods of this study were conducted in accordance with the approved guidelines.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Sciences Research Center, School of Life Science and TechnologyXidian UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Engineering Research Center of Molecular-imaging and Neuro-imagingMinistry of EducationXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Acupuncture and Immunological EffectsShanghai University of Traditional Chinese MedicineShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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