The Italian Neuroimaging Network Initiative (INNI) is an expanding repository of brain MRI data from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients recruited at four Italian MRI research sites. We describe the raw data quality of resting-state functional MRI (RS-fMRI) time-series in INNI and the inter-site variability in functional connectivity (FC) features after unified automated data preprocessing. MRI datasets from 489 MS patients and 246 healthy control (HC) subjects were retrieved from the INNI database. Raw data quality metrics included temporal signal-to-noise ratio (tSNR), spatial smoothness (FWHM), framewise displacement (FD), and differential variation in signals (DVARS). Automated preprocessing integrated white-matter lesion segmentation (SAMSEG) into a standard fMRI pipeline (fMRIPrep). FC features were calculated on pre-processed data and harmonized between sites (Combat) prior to assessing general MS-related alterations. Across centers (both groups), median tSNR and FWHM ranged from 47 to 84 and from 2.0 to 2.5, and median FD and DVARS ranged from 0.08 to 0.24 and from 1.06 to 1.22. After preprocessing, only global FC-related features were significantly correlated with FD or DVARS. Across large-scale networks, age/sex/FD-adjusted and harmonized FC features exhibited both inter-site and site-specific inter-group effects. Significant general reductions were obtained for somatomotor and limbic networks in MS patients (vs. HC). The implemented procedures provide technical information on raw data quality and outcome of fully automated preprocessing that might serve as reference in future RS-fMRI studies within INNI. The unified pipeline introduced little bias across sites and appears suitable for multisite FC analyses on harmonized network estimates.
Rocca, Maria A;Filippi, Massimo
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