PURPOSE: To demonstrate the feasibility of multidimensional diffusion MRI to probe and quantify microscopic fractional anisotropy (µFA) in human kidneys in vivo. METHODS: Linear tensor encoded (LTE) and spherical tensor encoded (STE) renal diffusion MRI scans were performed in 10 healthy volunteers. Respiratory triggering and image registration were used to minimize motion artefacts during the acquisition. Kidney cortex-medulla were semi-automatically segmented based on fractional anisotropy (FA) values. A model-free analysis of LTE and STE signal dependence on b-value in the renal cortex and medulla was performed. Subsequently, µFA was estimated using a single-shell approach. Finally, a comparison of conventional FA and µFA is shown. RESULTS: The hallmark effect of µFA (divergence of LTE and STE signal with increasing b-value) was observed in all subjects. A statistically significant difference between LTE and STE signal was found in the cortex and medulla, starting from b = 750 s/mm and b = 500 s/mm , respectively. This difference was maximal at the highest b-value sampled (b = 1000 s/mm ) which suggests that relatively high b-values are required for µFA mapping in the kidney compared to conventional FA. Cortical and medullary µFA were, respectively, 0.53 ± 0.09 and 0.65 ± 0.05, both respectively higher than conventional FA (0.19 ± 0.02 and 0.40 ± 0.02). CONCLUSION: The feasibility of combining LTE and STE diffusion MRI to probe and quantify µFA in human kidneys is demonstrated for the first time. By doing so, we show that novel microstructure information-not accessible by conventional diffusion encoding-can be probed by multidimensional diffusion MRI. We also identify relevant technical limitations that warrant further development of the technique for body MRI.
Tonya M Gilbert, Nicole R Zürcher, Mary C Catanese, Chieh-En J Tseng, Maria A Di Biase, Amanda E Lyall, Baileigh G Hightower, Anjali J Parmar, Anisha Bhanot, Christine J Wu, Matthew L Hibert, Minhae Kim, Umar Mahmood, Steven M Stufflebeam, Frederick A Schroeder, Changning Wang, Joshua L Roffman, Daphne J Holt, Douglas N Greve, Ofer Pasternak, Marek Kubicki, Hsiao-Ying Wey, and Jacob M Hooker. 2019. “Neuroepigenetic Signatures of Age and Sex in the Living Human Brain.” Nat Commun, 10, 1, Pp. 2945.Abstract
Age- and sex-related alterations in gene transcription have been demonstrated, however the underlying mechanisms are unresolved. Neuroepigenetic pathways regulate gene transcription in the brain. Here, we measure in vivo expression of the epigenetic enzymes, histone deacetylases (HDACs), across healthy human aging and between sexes using [C]Martinostat positron emission tomography (PET) neuroimaging (n = 41). Relative HDAC expression increases with age in cerebral white matter, and correlates with age-associated disruptions in white matter microstructure. A post mortem study confirmed that HDAC1 and HDAC2 paralogs are elevated in white matter tissue from elderly donors. There are also sex-specific in vivo HDAC expression differences in brain regions associated with emotion and memory, including the amygdala and hippocampus. Hippocampus and white matter HDAC expression negatively correlates with emotion regulation skills (n = 23). Age and sex are associated with HDAC expression in vivo, which could drive age- and sex-related transcriptional changes and impact human behavior.
Markus D Schirmer, Adrian V Dalca, Ramesh Sridharan, Anne-Katrin Giese, Kathleen L Donahue, Marco J Nardin, Steven JT Mocking, Elissa C McIntosh, Petrea Frid, Johan Wasselius, John W Cole, Lukas Holmegaard, Christina Jern, Jordi Jimenez-Conde, Robin Lemmens, Arne G Lindgren, James F Meschia, Jaume Roquer, Tatjana Rundek, Ralph L Sacco, Reinhold Schmidt, Pankaj Sharma, Agnieszka Slowik, Vincent Thijs, Daniel Woo, Achala Vagal, Huichun Xu, Steven J Kittner, Patrick F McArdle, Braxton D Mitchell, Jonathan Rosand, Bradford B Worrall, Ona Wu, Polina Golland, Natalia S Rost, and Natalia S Rost. 5/2019. “White Matter Hyperintensity Quantification in Large-scale Clinical Acute Ischemic Stroke Cohorts - The MRI-GENIE Study.” Neuroimage Clin, 23, Pp. 101884.Abstract
White matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden is a critically important cerebrovascular phenotype linked to prediction of diagnosis and prognosis of diseases, such as acute ischemic stroke (AIS). However, current approaches to its quantification on clinical MRI often rely on time intensive manual delineation of the disease on T2 fluid attenuated inverse recovery (FLAIR), which hinders high-throughput analyses such as genetic discovery. In this work, we present a fully automated pipeline for quantification of WMH in clinical large-scale studies of AIS. The pipeline incorporates automated brain extraction, intensity normalization and WMH segmentation using spatial priors. We first propose a brain extraction algorithm based on a fully convolutional deep learning architecture, specifically designed for clinical FLAIR images. We demonstrate that our method for brain extraction outperforms two commonly used and publicly available methods on clinical quality images in a set of 144 subject scans across 12 acquisition centers, based on dice coefficient (median 0.95; inter-quartile range 0.94-0.95; p < 0.01) and Pearson correlation of total brain volume (r = 0.90). Subsequently, we apply it to the large-scale clinical multi-site MRI-GENIE study (N = 2783) and identify a decrease in total brain volume of -2.4 cc/year. Additionally, we show that the resulting total brain volumes can successfully be used for quality control of image preprocessing. Finally, we obtain WMH volumes by building on an existing automatic WMH segmentation algorithm that delineates and distinguishes between different cerebrovascular pathologies. The learning method mimics expert knowledge of the spatial distribution of the WMH burden using a convolutional auto-encoder. This enables successful computation of WMH volumes of 2533 clinical AIS patients. We utilize these results to demonstrate the increase of WMH burden with age (0.950 cc/year) and show that single site estimates can be biased by the number of subjects recruited.
PURPOSE: Diffusion encoding with asymmetric gradient waveforms is appealing because the asymmetry provides superior efficiency. However, concomitant gradients may cause a residual gradient moment at the end of the waveform, which can cause significant signal error and image artifacts. The purpose of this study was to develop an asymmetric waveform designs for tensor-valued diffusion encoding that is not sensitive to concomitant gradients. METHODS: The "Maxwell index" was proposed as a scalar invariant to capture the effect of concomitant gradients. Optimization of "Maxwell-compensated" waveforms was performed in which this index was constrained. Resulting waveforms were compared to waveforms from literature, in terms of the measured and predicted impact of concomitant gradients, by numerical analysis as well as experiments in a phantom and in a healthy human brain. RESULTS: Maxwell-compensated waveforms with Maxwell indices below 100 (mT/m) ms showed negligible signal bias in both numerical analysis and experiments. By contrast, several waveforms from literature showed gross signal bias under the same conditions, leading to a signal bias that was large enough to markedly affect parameter maps. Experimental results were accurately predicted by theory. CONCLUSION: Constraining the Maxwell index in the optimization of asymmetric gradient waveforms yields efficient diffusion encoding that negates the effects of concomitant fields while enabling arbitrary shapes of the b-tensor. This waveform design is especially useful in combination with strong gradients, long encoding times, thick slices, simultaneous multi-slice acquisition, and large FOVs.
In vivo mapping of the neurite density with diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a high but challenging aim. First, it is unknown whether all neurites exhibit completely anisotropic ("stick-like") diffusion. Second, the "density" of tissue components may be confounded by non-diffusion properties such as T2 relaxation. Third, the domain of validity for the estimated parameters to serve as indices of neurite density is incompletely explored. We investigated these challenges by acquiring data with "b-tensor encoding" and multiple echo times in brain regions with low orientation coherence and in white matter lesions. Results showed that microscopic anisotropy from b-tensor data is associated with myelinated axons but not with dendrites. Furthermore, b-tensor data together with data acquired for multiple echo times showed that unbiased density estimates in white matter lesions require data-driven estimates of compartment-specific T2 values. Finally, the "stick" fractions of different biophysical models could generally not serve as neurite density indices across the healthy brain and white matter lesions, where outcomes of comparisons depended on the choice of constraints. In particular, constraining compartment-specific T2 values was ambiguous in the healthy brain and had a large impact on estimated values. In summary, estimating neurite density generally requires accounting for different diffusion and/or T2 properties between axons and dendrites. Constrained "index" parameters could be valid within limited domains that should be delineated by future studies.