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The altered functional modular organization in systemic lupus erythematosus: an independent component analysis study


The aim of this study was to investigate the abnormities in functional connectivity (FC) within each modular network and between modular networks in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Twelve meaningful modular networks were identified via independent component analysis from 41 patients and 40 volunteers. Parametric tests were used to compare the intra- and intermodular FC between the groups. Partial correlation analysis was used to seek the relationships between abnormal FCs and the clinical data. Compared to the controls, SLE patients showed decreased intramodular FC in the anterior default mode network (aDMN), posterior default mode network (pDMN), ventral attention network (VAN), and sensorimotor network (SMN) and increased intramodular FC in the medial visual network (mVN) and left frontoparietal network. In addition, SLE patients showed decreased intermodular FC between the SMN and the lateral visual network (lVN), between the SMN and the VAN, and between the pDMN and the lVN and exhibited increased intermodular FC between the SMN and the salience network (SAN), between the pDMN and the SAN, and between the aDMN and the VAN. Moreover, we found several correlations among the abnormal FCs and the Mini-Mental State Examination in SLE patients. Mild cognitive impairment is compensated by the hyperconnectivity between the aDMN and the VAN, while severe cognitive impairment tends to be compensated by the hyperconnectivity between the SMN and the SAN. The FC value between the SMN and the SAN and between the aDMN and the VAN may serve as neuroimaging markers for monitoring cognitive progression in SLE patients.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 3



Anterior default mode network


Auditory network


Executive control network


Dorsal attention network


Functional connectivity


Family-wise error rate


Independent component analysis


Healthy control


Left frontoparietal network


Lateral visual network


Mini-mental state examination


Medial visual network


Posterior default mode network


Right frontoparietal network


Salience network


Systemic lupus erythematosus


Sensorimotor network


Ventral attention network


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This study has received funding by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC81571652); Science and technology project of Yangzhou (YZ2018059); "333 Project" of Jiangsu Province (BRA2017154). Yangzhou City Science and Education Strengthening Key Talents Project (ZDRC201873).

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Correspondence to Jing-Tao Wu.

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Cao, ZY., Wang, N., Wei, H. et al. The altered functional modular organization in systemic lupus erythematosus: an independent component analysis study. Brain Imaging and Behavior (2021).

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  • Cognitive impairment
  • Functional connectivity
  • Independent component analysis
  • Modular network
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus