Diffusion tensor imaging detects ventilation-induced brain injury in preterm lambs

Dhafer M. Alahmari, Kyra Y.Y. Chan, Vanesa Stojanovska, Domenic LaRosa, Samantha K. Barton, Ilias Nitsos, Valerie Zahra, Jade Barbuto, Michael Farrell, Shigeo Yamaoka, James T. Pearson, Graeme R. Polglase

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Purpose: Injurious mechanical ventilation causes white matter (WM) injury in preterm infants through inflammatory and haemodynamic pathways. The relative contribution of each of these pathways is not known. We hypothesised that in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect WM brain injury resulting from mechanical ventilation 24 h after preterm delivery. Further we hypothesised that the combination of inflammatory and haemodynamic pathways, induced by umbilical cord occlusion (UCO) increases brain injury at 24 h. Methods: Fetuses at 124±2 days gestation were exposed, instrumented and either ventilated for 15 min using a high tidal-volume (VT) injurious strategy with the umbilical cord intact (INJ; inflammatory pathway only), or occluded (INJ+UCO; inflammatory and haemodynamic pathway). The ventilation groups were compared to lambs that underwent surgery but were not ventilated (Sham), and lambs that did not undergo surgery (unoperated control; Cont). Fetuses were placed back in utero after the 15 min intervention and ewes recovered. Twenty-four hours later, lambs were delivered, placed on a protective ventilation strategy, and underwent MRI of the brain using structural, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) techniques. Results: Absolute MRS concentrations of creatine and choline were significantly decreased in INJ +UCO compared to Cont lambs (P = 0.03, P = 0.009, respectively); no significant differences were detected between the INJ or Sham groups and the Cont group. Axial diffusivities in the internal capsule and frontal WM were lower in INJ and INJ+UCO compared to Cont lambs (P = 0.05, P = 0.04, respectively). Lambs in the INJ and INJ+UCO groups had lower mean diffusivities in the frontal WM compared to Cont group (P = 0.04). DTI colour mapping revealed lower diffusivity in specific WM regions in the Sham, INJ, and INJ+UCO groups compared to the Cont group, but the differences did not reach significance. INJ+UCO lambs more likely to exhibit lower WM diffusivity than INJ lambs. Conclusions: Twenty-four hours after injurious ventilation, DTI and MRS showed increased brain injury in the injuriously ventilated lambs compared to controls. DTI colour mapping threshold approach provides evidence that the haemodynamic and inflammatory pathways have additive effects on the progression of brain injury compared to the inflammatory pathway alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0188737
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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