Connectivity and morphology of hubs of the cerebral structural connectome are associated with brain resilience in AD- and age-related pathology

  • Florian U. FischerEmail author
  • Dominik Wolf
  • Andreas Fellgiebel
  • for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative*


The physiological basis of resilience to age-associated and AD-typical neurodegenerative pathology is still not well understood. So far, the established resilience factor intelligence has been shown to be associated with white matter network global efficiency, a key constituent of which are highly connected hubs. However, hub properties have also been shown to be impaired in AD. Individual predisposition or vulnerability of hub properties may thus modulate the impact of pathology on cognitive outcome and form part of the physiological basis of resilience. 85 cognitively normal elderly subjects and patients with MCI with DWI, MRI and AV45-PET scans were included from ADNI. We reconstructed the global WM networks in each subject and characterized hub-properties of GM regions using graph theory by calculating regional betweenness centrality. Subsequently, we investigated whether regional GM volume (GMV) and structural WM connectivity (WMC) of more hub-like regions was more associated with resilience, quantified as cognitive performance independent of amyloid burden, tau and WM lesions. Subjects with higher resilience showed higher increased regional GMV and WMC in more hub-like compared to less hub-like GM-regions. Additionally, this association was in some instances further increased at elevated amounts of brain pathology. Higher GMV and WMC of more hub-like regions may contribute more to resilience compared to less hub-like regions, reflecting their increased importance to brain network efficiency, and may thus form part of the neurophysiological basis of resilience. Future studies should investigate the factors leading to higher GMV and WMC of hubs in non-demented elderly with higher resilience.


Hubs Structural connectome GM morphology WM connectivity Resilience AD 



Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904) and DOD ADNI (Department of Defense award number W81XWH-12-2-0012). ADNI is funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and through generous contributions from the following: AbbVie, Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation; Araclon Biotech; BioClinica, Inc.; Biogen; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; CereSpir, Inc.; Cogstate; Eisai Inc.; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; EuroImmun; F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and its affiliated company Genentech, Inc.; Fujirebio; GE Healthcare; IXICO Ltd.; Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development, LLC.; Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC.; Lumosity; Lundbeck; Merck & Co., Inc.; Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC.; NeuroRx Research; Neurotrack Technologies; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Pfizer Inc.; Piramal Imaging; Servier; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; and Transition Therapeutics. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing funds to support ADNI clinical sites in Canada. Private sector contributions are facilitated by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health ( The grantee organization is the Northern California Institute for Research and Education, and the study is coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute at the University of Southern California. ADNI data are disseminated by the Laboratory for Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author Florian U. Fischer, Author Dominik Wolf and Author Andreas Fellgiebel declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, and the applicable revisions at the time of the investigation. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Non-animal research

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

11682_2019_90_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Center for Mental Health in Old AgeLandeskrankenhaus (AöR)MainzGermany

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