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Using compartment models of diffusion MRI to investigate the preterm brain

Eaton-Rosen, Zachary; (2017) Using compartment models of diffusion MRI to investigate the preterm brain. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality, with survivors experiencing motor, cognitive and other deficits at increased rates. In preterm infancy, the developing brain undergoes folding, myelination, and rapid cellular growth. Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DW MRI) is an imaging modality that allows noninvasive inference of cellular microstructure in living tissue, and its parameters reflect changes in brain tissue composition. In this thesis, we employ compartment models of DW MRI to investigate the microstructure in preterm-born subjects at different ages. Within infants, we have used the NODDI model to investigate longitudinal changes in neurite density and orientation dispersion within the white matter, cerebral cortex and thalamus, explaining known trends in diffusion tensor parameters with greater specificity. We then used a quantitative T2 sequence to develop and investigate a novel, multi-modal parameter known as the ‘g-ratio’. We have also investigated changing microstructural geometry within the cortex. Immediately after preterm birth, the highly-ordered underlying cellular structure makes diffusion in the cortex almost entirely radial. This undergoes a transition to a disordered and isotropic state over the first weeks of life, which we have used the DIAMOND model to quantify. This radiality decreases at a rate that depends on the cortical lobe. In a cohort of young adults born extremely preterm, we have quantified differences in brain microstructure compared to term-born controls. In preterm subjects, the brain structures are smaller than for controls, leading to increased partial volume in some regions of interest. We introduce a method to infer diffusion parameters in partial volume, even for regions which are smaller than the diffusion resolution. Overall, this thesis utilises and evaluates a variety of compartment models of DW MRI. By developing and applying principled and robust methodology, we present new insights into microstructure within the preterm-born brain.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Using compartment models of diffusion MRI to investigate the preterm brain
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: MRI, DW MRI, Diffusion-Weighted MRI, Preterm, Microstructure, Brain, Cortex
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1574681
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