Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 674–684 | Cite as

Cortical thickness reductions associate with abnormal resting-state functional connectivity in non-neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Chen Niu
  • Xiangliang Tan
  • Xiaojin Liu
  • Kai Han
  • Meiqi Niu
  • Jun Xu
  • Ling Zhao
  • Yuankui Wu
  • Feng Deng
  • Qin Huang
  • Xiaoyan Wu
  • Huiyuan Huang
  • Yikai Xu
  • Ruiwang Huang
Original Research


To detect the abnormal cortical thickness and disrupted brain resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) without neuropsychiatric symptoms (non-NPSLE). Using T1-weighted 3D brain structural data, we first determined the regions with abnormal cortical thickness in a cohort of 33 adult female non-NPSLE patients. By taking brain regions with significantly reduced cortical thickness as the seeds, we calculated their RSFC based on the resting-fMRI data and detected the relationship between the RSFC and cortical thickness in the non-NPSLE patients. Compared to the controls, the non-NPSLE patients showed significantly cortical thinning in the left fusiform gyrus (FUS.L), left lingual gyrus (LING.L), right lingual gyrus (LING.R) and left superior frontal cortex (SFC.L). As for the RSFC, statistical analyses indicated that the abnormal cortical thickness in LING.L is associated with increased RSFC in the left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC.L), and cortical thinning in SFC.L associated with decreased RSFC in left cerebellum 6 (CRBL 6.L) in non-NPSLE patients. In addition, in non-NPSLE patients, the decreased cortical thickness in LING.L was correlated to the increased RSFC in PCC.L, and decreased cortical thickness in SFC.L was correlated to the decreased RSFC in CRBL 6.L. Our findings suggest that the cortical abnormalities may affect brain intrinsic connectivity in non-NPSLE patients.


Fronto-cerebellar Functional connectivity Surface-based morphometry (SBM) non-NPSLE 



Systemic lupus erythematosus


Neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus


Non-neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus


Resting-state functional connectivity


Surface-based morphometry


American College of Rheumatology


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index


Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index


Gray matter/white matter


Cerebrospinal fluid


Resting-state fMRI





The authors thank the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and their suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was partly supported by the Department of Medical Imaging Center, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, and was partly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant number: 81,271,548, 81,271,560, 81,371,535, 81,428,013, and 81,471,654].

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11682_2017_9729_MOESM1_ESM.docx (98 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 98 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chen Niu
    • 1
  • Xiangliang Tan
    • 2
  • Xiaojin Liu
    • 1
  • Kai Han
    • 3
  • Meiqi Niu
    • 1
  • Jun Xu
    • 4
  • Ling Zhao
    • 1
  • Yuankui Wu
    • 2
  • Feng Deng
    • 1
  • Qin Huang
    • 5
  • Xiaoyan Wu
    • 1
  • Huiyuan Huang
    • 1
  • Yikai Xu
    • 2
  • Ruiwang Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the Study of Applied Psychology, School of Psychology, Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science of Guangdong Province, Institute for Brain Research and Rehabilitation (IBRR)South China Normal UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Medical Imaging Center, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Dermatology, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Hematology, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of Rheumatology, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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