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Diffusion MRI approaches for investigating microstructural complexity in a rat model of traumatic brain injury.

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Chary, Karthik 
Manninen, Eppu 
Claessens, Jade 
Ramirez-Manzanares, Alonso 
Gröhn, Olli 


Our study explores the potential of conventional and advanced diffusion MRI techniques including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and single-shell 3-tissue constrained spherical deconvolution (SS3T-CSD) to investigate complex microstructural changes following severe traumatic brain injury in rats at a chronic phase. Rat brains after sham-operation or lateral fluid percussion (LFP) injury were scanned ex vivo in a 9.4 T scanner. Our region-of-interest-based approach of tensor-, and SS3T-CSD derived fixel-, 3-tissue signal fraction maps were sensitive to changes in both white matter (WM) and grey matter (GM) areas. Tensor-based measures, such as fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (RD), detected more changes in WM and GM areas as compared to fixel-based measures including apparent fiber density (AFD), peak FOD amplitude and primary fiber bundle density, while 3-tissue signal fraction maps revealed distinct changes in WM, GM, and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) fractions highlighting the complex tissue microstructural alterations post-trauma. Track-weighted imaging demonstrated changes in track morphology including reduced curvature and average pathlength distal from the primary lesion in severe TBI rats. In histological analysis, changes in the diffusion MRI measures could be associated to decreased myelin density, loss of myelinated axons, and increased cellularity, revealing progressive microstructural alterations in these brain areas five months after injury. Overall, this study highlights the use of combined conventional and advanced diffusion MRI measures to obtain more precise insights into the complex tissue microstructural alterations in chronic phase of severe brain injury.



Rats, Animals, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Brain, Brain Injuries, Traumatic, White Matter

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Academy of Finland (298007, 275453)