We present a volumetric mesh-based algorithm for parameterizing the placenta to a flattened template to enable effective visualization of local anatomy and function. MRI shows potential as a research tool as it provides signals directly related to placental function. However, due to the curved and highly variable in vivo shape of the placenta, interpreting and visualizing these images is difficult. We address interpretation challenges by mapping the placenta so that it resembles the familiar ex vivo shape. We formulate the parameterization as an optimization problem for mapping the placental shape represented by a volumetric mesh to a flattened template. We employ the symmetric Dirichlet energy to control local distortion throughout the volume. Local injectivity in the mapping is enforced by a constrained line search during the gradient descent optimization. We validate our method using a research study of 111 placental shapes extracted from BOLD MRI images. Our mapping achieves sub-voxel accuracy in matching the template while maintaining low distortion throughout the volume. We demonstrate how the resulting flattening of the placenta improves visualization of anatomy and function. Our code is freely available at https://github.com/mabulnaga/placenta-flattening.
Matrix metalloproteinases 9 (MMP9) are enzymes involved in regulating neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. This, combined with evidence for disrupted hippocampal structure and function in schizophrenia, has prompted our current investigation into the relationship between MMP9 and hippocampal volumes in schizophrenia. 34 healthy individuals (mean age = 32.50, male = 21, female = 13) and 30 subjects with schizophrenia (mean age = 33.07, male = 19, female = 11) underwent a blood draw and T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The hippocampus was automatically segmented utilizing FreeSurfer. MMP9 plasma levels were measured with ELISA. ANCOVAs were conducted to compare MMP9 plasma levels (corrected for age and sex) and hippocampal volumes between groups (corrected for age, sex, total intracranial volume). Spearman correlations were utilized to investigate the relationship between symptoms, medication, duration of illness, number of episodes, and MMP9 plasma levels in patients. Last, we explored the correlation between MMP9 levels and hippocampal volumes in patients and healthy individuals separately. Patients displayed higher MMP9 plasma levels than healthy individuals (F(1, 60) = 21.19, p < 0.0001). MMP9 levels correlated with negative symptoms in patients (R = 0.39, p = 0.035), but not with medication, duration of illness, or the number of episodes. Further, patients had smaller left (F(1,59) = 9.12, p = 0.0040) and right (F(1,59) = 6.49, p = 0.013) hippocampal volumes. Finally, left (R = -0.39, p = 0.034) and right (R = -0.37, p = 0.046) hippocampal volumes correlated negatively with MMP9 plasma levels in patients. We observe higher MMP9 plasma levels in SCZ, associated with lower hippocampal volumes, suggesting involvement of MMP9 in the pathology of SCZ. Future studies are needed to investigate how MMP9 influences the pathology of SCZ over the lifespan, whether the observed associations are specific for schizophrenia, and if a therapeutic modulation of MMP9 promotes neuroprotective effects in SCZ.
We propose a novel pairwise distance measure between image keypoint sets, for the purpose of large-scale medical image indexing. Our measure generalizes the Jaccard index to account for soft set equivalence (SSE) between keypoint elements, via an adaptive kernel framework modeling uncertainty in keypoint appearance and geometry. A new kernel is proposed to quantify the variability of keypoint geometry in location and scale. Our distance measure may be estimated between O (N 2) image pairs in [Formula: see text] operations via keypoint indexing. Experiments report the first results for the task of predicting family relationships from medical images, using 1010 T1-weighted MRI brain volumes of 434 families including monozygotic and dizygotic twins, siblings and half-siblings sharing 100%-25% of their polymorphic genes. Soft set equivalence and the keypoint geometry kernel improve upon standard hard set equivalence (HSE) and appearance kernels alone in predicting family relationships. Monozygotic twin identification is near 100%, and three subjects with uncertain genotyping are automatically paired with their self-reported families, the first reported practical application of image-based family identification. Our distance measure can also be used to predict group categories, sex is predicted with an AUC = 0.97. Software is provided for efficient fine-grained curation of large, generic image datasets.
Training deep learning models that segment an image in one step typically requires a large collection of manually annotated images that captures the anatomical variability in a cohort. This poses challenges when anatomical variability is extreme but training data is limited, as when segmenting cardiac structures in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). In this paper, we propose an iterative segmentation model and show that it can be accurately learned from a small dataset. Implemented as a recurrent neural network, the model evolves a segmentation over multiple steps, from a single user click until reaching an automatically determined stopping point. We develop a novel loss function that evaluates the entire sequence of output segmentations, and use it to learn model parameters. Segmentations evolve predictably according to growth dynamics encapsulated by training data, which consists of images, partially completed segmentations, and the recommended next step. The user can easily refine the final segmentation by examining those that are earlier or later in the output sequence. Using a dataset of 3D cardiac MR scans from patients with a wide range of CHD types, we show that our iterative model offers better generalization to patients with the most severe heart malformations.
Measuring and understanding functional fetal brain development in utero is critical for the study of the developmental foundations of our cognitive abilities, possible early detection of disorders, and their prevention. Thalamocortical connections are an intricate component of shaping the cortical layout, but so far, only ex-vivo studies provide evidence of how axons enter the sub-plate and cortex during this highly dynamic phase. Evidence for normal in-utero development of the functional thalamocortical connectome in humans is missing. Here, we modeled fetal functional thalamocortical connectome development using in-utero functional magnetic resonance imaging in fetuses observed from 19th to 40th weeks of gestation (GW). We observed a peak increase of thalamocortical functional connectivity strength between 29th and 31st GW, right before axons establish synapses in the cortex. The cortico-cortical connectivity increases in a similar time window, and exhibits significant functional laterality in temporal-superior, -medial, and -inferior areas. Homologous regions exhibit overall similar mirrored connectivity profiles, but this similarity decreases during gestation giving way to a more diverse cortical interconnectedness. Our results complement the understanding of structural development of the human connectome and may serve as the basis for the investigation of disease and deviations from a normal developmental trajectory of connectivity development.