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Brain structural network topological alterations of the left prefrontal and limbic cortex in psychogenic erectile dysfunction

Chen, J1; Chen, Y1; Chen, T1; Gao, Q1; Dai, Y1; Yao, Z2; Lu, Q3

1: Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, China; 2: Nanjing Brain Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, China; 3: Research Centre for Learning Science, Southeast University, China

Objectives: Despite increasing understanding of the cerebral functional changes and structural abnormalities in erectile dysfunction, alterations in the topological organization of brain networks underlying psychogenic erectile dysfunction (pED) remain unclear.

Material and Methods: Here, based on the diffusion tensor image data of 25 pED patients and 26 healthy controls, we investigated the topological organization of brain structural networks and its correlations with the clinical variables using the graph theoretical analysis.

Results: Psychogenic ED displayed a preserved overall small-world organization and exhibited a less connectivity strength in the left inferior frontal gyrus, amygdale and the right inferior temporal gyrus. Moreover, an abnormal hub pattern was observed in pED, which might disturb the information interactions of the remaining brain network. Additionally, the clustering coefficient of the left hippocampus was positively correlated with the duration of pED and the normalized betweenness centrality of the right anterior cingulate gyrus and the left calcarine fissure were negatively correlated with the sum scores of the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

Conclusions: In summary, this study investigated the topological characteristics of brain structural networks in pED using graph theory analysis. We found that pED showed an intact small-world architectures. However, compared with HC, pED demonstrated disturbances of the optimal topological organization reflected by an abnormal hub distribution and a reduced level of strength in the left prefrontal cortex and limbic system (especially amygdale and hippocampus) that might be as well associated with impaired controls of sexual arousal. In addition, the duration and severity of pED were correlated with the abnormal local information transmission of the left hippocampus and the decreased importance of the right anterior cingulate gyrus and the left calcarine fissure in information transfer within the whole brain network of pED, respectively. Together, the disrupted structural organization of the left prefrontal and limbic cortex, involved in the abnormal cognitive and affective processing procedures, as well as the impaired processes of sexual arousal, might contribute to the pathogenesis of pED.


Work supported by industry: no.

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