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3 April 2015 Structural development of human brain white matter from mid-fetal to perinatal stage
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The structures of developing human brain white matter (WM) tracts can be effectively quantified by DTI-derived metrics, including fractional anisotropy (FA), mean, axial and radial diffusivity (MD, AD and RD). However, dynamics of WM microstructure during very early developmental period from mid-fetal to perinatal stage is unknown. It is difficult to accurately measure microstructural properties of these WM tracts due to severe contamination from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In this study, high resolution DTI of fetal brains at mid-fetal stage (20 weeks of gestation or 20wg), 19 brains in the middle of 3rd trimester (35wg) and 17 brains around term (40wg) were acquired. We established first population-averaged DTI templates at these three time points and extracted WM skeleton. 16 major WM tracts in limbic, projection, commissural and association tract groups were traced with DTI tractography in native space. The WM skeleton in the template space was inversely transformed back to the native space for measuring core WM microstructures of each individual tract. Continuous microstructural enhancement and volumetric increase of WM tracts were found from 20wg to 40wg. The microstructural enhancement from FA measurement is decelerated in late 3rd trimester compared to mid-fetal to middle 3rd trimester, while volumetric increase of prefrontal WM tracts is accelerated. The microstructural enhancement from 35wg to 40wg is heterogeneous among different tract groups with microstructures of association tracts undergoing most dramatic change. Besides decreases of RD indicating active myelination, the decrease of AD for most WM tracts during late 3rd trimester suggests axonal packing process.
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Austin Ouyang, Qiaowen Yu, Virendra Mishra, Lina Chalak, Tina Jeon, Muraleedharan Sivarajan, Greg Jackson, Nancy Rollins, Shuwei Liu, and Hao Huang "Structural development of human brain white matter from mid-fetal to perinatal stage", Proc. SPIE 9417, Medical Imaging 2015: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging, 94171P (3 April 2015);

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