The pathophysiology of patients with dry eye disease (DED) is associated with abnormal functional connectivity (FC). The present study aims to probe alterations of voxel-wise brain-wide FC in patient with DED at rest in an unbiased way. A total of 20 patients with DED and 23 controls matched by age, sex, and years of education underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans. Global-brain FC (GFC) was adopted to analyze the images. Support vector machine (SVM) was utilized to differentiate the patients from the controls. Compared with the controls, patients with DED exhibited decreased GFC in the right cerebellum lobule VIII/inferior semi-lunar lobule and left thalamus that belonged to the cerebello-thalamo-cortical network. The GFC values in the left thalamus were positively correlated to the illness duration ( = 0.589, = 0.006) in the patients. Decreased GFC values in the left thalamus could be used to discriminate the patients from the controls with optimal accuracy, sensitivity and specificity (88.37, 85.00, and 91.30%). Our findings indicate that decreased GFC in the brain regions associated with cerebello-thalamo-cortical network may provide a new insight for understanding the pathological changes of FC in DED. GFC values in the left thalamus may be utilized as a potential biomarker to identify the patients from the controls.
Copyright © 2020 Pan, Wei, Ou, Liu, Li, Jiang, Li, Lei, Guo and Luo.