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Altered white matter microstructure is related to cognition in adults with congenital heart disease


Ehrler, Melanie; Schlosser, Ladina; Brugger, Peter; Greutmann, Matthias; Oxenius, Angela; Kottke, Raimund; O’Gorman Tuura, Ruth; Latal, Beatrice (2021). Altered white matter microstructure is related to cognition in adults with congenital heart disease. Brain Communications, 3(1):fcaa224.

Abstract

Adults with congenital heart disease are at risk for persisting executive function deficits, which are known to affect academic achievement and quality of life. Alterations in white -matter microstructure are associated with cognitive impairments in adolescents with congenital heart disease. This study aimed to identify microstructural alterations potentially associated with executive function deficits in adults with congenital heart disease. Diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics were conducted in 45 patients (18 females) and 54 healthy controls (26 females) aged 18–32 years. Fractional anisotropy of white matter diffusion was compared between groups and correlated with an executive function score, derived from an extensive neuropsychological test battery. Patients showed widespread bilateral reduction in fractional anisotropy (P < 0.05, multiple comparison corrected) compared to controls. Lower fractional anisotropy was driven by patients with moderate and severe defect complexity (compared to controls: P < 0.001). Executive function scores were lower in patients (P < 0.05) and associated with lower fractional anisotropy in the left superior corona radiata and the corticospinal tract (corrected P < 0.05). Our findings confirm alterations of white matter microstructure in adults with congenital heart disease, mainly in those patients of moderate to severe complexity. These alterations are associated with impairments in executive functioning. A better understanding of the neurocognitive deficits may help counselling and care of patients with congenital heart disease across their lifespan and have the potential to improve their outcome and quality of life.

Abstract

Adults with congenital heart disease are at risk for persisting executive function deficits, which are known to affect academic achievement and quality of life. Alterations in white -matter microstructure are associated with cognitive impairments in adolescents with congenital heart disease. This study aimed to identify microstructural alterations potentially associated with executive function deficits in adults with congenital heart disease. Diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics were conducted in 45 patients (18 females) and 54 healthy controls (26 females) aged 18–32 years. Fractional anisotropy of white matter diffusion was compared between groups and correlated with an executive function score, derived from an extensive neuropsychological test battery. Patients showed widespread bilateral reduction in fractional anisotropy (P < 0.05, multiple comparison corrected) compared to controls. Lower fractional anisotropy was driven by patients with moderate and severe defect complexity (compared to controls: P < 0.001). Executive function scores were lower in patients (P < 0.05) and associated with lower fractional anisotropy in the left superior corona radiata and the corticospinal tract (corrected P < 0.05). Our findings confirm alterations of white matter microstructure in adults with congenital heart disease, mainly in those patients of moderate to severe complexity. These alterations are associated with impairments in executive functioning. A better understanding of the neurocognitive deficits may help counselling and care of patients with congenital heart disease across their lifespan and have the potential to improve their outcome and quality of life.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:16 January 2021
Deposited On:13 Jan 2021 16:13
Last Modified:12 Feb 2021 09:41
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:2632-1297
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa224

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