To investigate resting-state functional connectivity of lupus patients and associated subgroups according to the ACR NPSLE case definitions (ACR ad hoc). In addition, we investigated whether or not the observed alterations correlated with disease duration, the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-Disease Activity Index-2000 (SLEDAI-2k), and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinical/ACR organ damage index (SDI)-scores. Anatomical 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and resting-state functional MRI were performed in 61 female lupus patients (mean age = 37.0 years, range = 18.2-52.0 years) and 20 gender- and age-matched controls (mean age = 36.2 years, range = 23.3-52.2 years) in conjunction with clinical examination and laboratory testing. Whole-brain voxelwise functional connectivity analysis with permutation testing was performed to extract network components that differed in lupus patients relative to healthy controls (HCs). Lupus patients exhibited both inter- and intranetwork hypo- and hyperconnectivity involving several crucial networks. We found reduced connectivity within the default mode network (DMN), the central executive network (CEN), and in-between the DMN and CEN in lupus patients. Increased connectivity was primarily observed within and between the sensory motor network in lupus patients when compared to HCs. Comparing lupus patients with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms, hypoconnectivity was more pronounced in the group with neuropsychiatric complaints. The functional connectivity of SLE patients was both positively and negatively correlated to duration of disease. We conclude that SLE patients in general and neuropsychiatric SLE patients in particular experience altered brain connectivity. These patterns may be due both to direct neuronal damage and compensatory mechanisms through neuronal rewiring and recruitment and may partly explain neuropsychiatric symptoms in SLE patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Connectivity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


  • brain connectivity
  • functional MRI
  • MRI
  • SLE


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