Title : Tcm Meridian sinew therapy reshapes structural brain networks in patients with neurological dysfunction
Introduction: Meridian sinew treatment provides positive therapeutic benefits for neurological dysfunctional disorders, which may be due to the promotion of structural brain network remodelling. The aim of this research was to use a graph-theoretic approach to examine the topology of structural brain networks in patients with neurological dysfunction before and after meridian sinew therapy, to look into the remodelling effect of meridian sinew therapy on structural networks.
Methods: A total of 18 patients with neurological dysfunction were selected for the study and divided into two subgroups based on their symptoms - cognitive impairment subgroup (Group A, N=10) and motor impairment subgroup (Group B, N=8). Additionally, 16 healthy volunteers were recruited as the control group. The patients received treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) meridian sinew therapy, and cranial MRI thin-section T1 and diffusion tensor image (DTI) sequences were taken before and 1-3 months after treatment in groups A and B. Baseline data was collected only once for the control group. Using PANDA software, structural brain network matrices were constructed for the patients before and after treatment, and the corresponding networks' topological properties were calculated and compared using GRETAN software and graph theory methods.
Results: Most individuals improved their symptoms after treatment. The case group's small-worldness before treatment was lower than the control group's (p=0.010), and increased after treatment compared to before treatment (p=0.006), with no significant difference compared to the control group. This implies that individuals with neurological dysfunction have defective structural network operating patterns, which are repaired by meridian sinew therapy. Compared to before treatment, the global efficiency of group A decreased (p=0.021), and that of group B increased (p=0.036) after treatment, with no significant difference compared to the control group. This indicates that meridian sinew therapy can be specifically reshaped based on the type of network damage, and the final network topology of patients will tend to converge with that of healthy individuals.
Conclusion: TCM meridian sinew treatment can remodel the structural brain network of individuals with neurological dysfunction, optimizing the network's information processing patterns and thereby alleviating clinical symptoms. This remodelling effect might explain meridian therapy's long-term efficacy.
Disclosure: This study was funded by the Joint Research Fund for Enterprise and basic and applied basic research Programs of Guangdong Province of China (NO. 2021A1515 220112) and the Special Funds of Department of Science and Technology of Guangdong Province (NO. 2020ST102).
Audience Take Away Notes:
- TCM meridian sinew therapy can reshape and even optimise the processing mode of the structural brain network.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging coupled with graph theoretical approaches can be used to investigate the processes of traditional medicine's effect on brain networks.
- Functional magnetic resonance brain network research can bring new perspectives to the mechanisms of brain influence in traditional medicine.