Large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging studies with diffusion imaging techniques are necessary to test and validate models of white matter neurophysiological processes that change in time, both in healthy and diseased brains. The predictive power of such longitudinal models will always be limited by the reproducibility of repeated measures acquired during different sessions. At present, there is limited quantitative knowledge about the across-session reproducibility of standard diffusion metrics in 3T multi-centric studies on subjects in stable conditions, in particular when using tract based spatial statistics and with elderly people. In this study we implemented a multi-site brain diffusion protocol in 10 clinical 3T MRI sites distributed across 4 countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, France and Greece) using vendor provided sequences from Siemens (Allegra, Trio Tim, Verio, Skyra, Biograph mMR), Philips (Achieva) and GE (HDxt) scanners. We acquired DTI data (2 × 2 × 2 mm(3), b = 700 s/mm(2), 5 b0 and 30 diffusion weighted volumes) of a group of healthy stable elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) in two separate sessions at least a week apart. For each subject and session four scalar diffusion metrics were considered: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial (AD) diffusivity. The diffusion metrics from multiple subjects and sessions at each site were aligned to their common white matter skeleton using tract-based spatial statistics. The reproducibility at each MRI site was examined by looking at group averages of absolute changes relative to the mean (%) on various parameters: i) reproducibility of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the b0 images in centrum semiovale, ii) full brain test-retest differences of the diffusion metric maps on the white matter skeleton, iii) reproducibility of the diffusion metrics on atlas-based white matter ROIs on the white matter skeleton. Despite the differences of MRI scanner configurations across sites (vendors, models, RF coils and acquisition sequences) we found good and consistent test-retest reproducibility. White matter b0 SNR reproducibility was on average 7 ± 1% with no significant MRI site effects. Whole brain analysis resulted in no significant test-retest differences at any of the sites with any of the DTI metrics. The atlas-based ROI analysis showed that the mean reproducibility errors largely remained in the 2-4% range for FA and AD and 2-6% for MD and RD, averaged across ROIs. Our results show reproducibility values comparable to those reported in studies using a smaller number of MRI scanners, slightly different DTI protocols and mostly younger populations. We therefore show that the acquisition and analysis protocols used are appropriate for multi-site experimental scenarios.
Awake surgery requires coordinated teamwork and communication between the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, as he monitors the patient, the neuroradiologist as he interprets the images for intraoperative confirmation, and the neuropsychologist and neurophysiologist as they evaluate in real-time the patients responses to commands and questions. To improve comparison across published studies on clinical assessment and operative settings in awake surgery, we reviewed the literature, focusing on methodological differences and aims. In complex, interdisciplinary medical care, such differences can affect the outcome and the cost-benefit ratio of the treatment. Standardization of intraoperative mapping and related controversies will be discussed in Part II.
Large-scale longitudinal multi-site MRI brain morphometry studies are becoming increasingly crucial to characterize both normal and clinical population groups using fully automated segmentation tools. The test-retest reproducibility of morphometry data acquired across multiple scanning sessions, and for different MR vendors, is an important reliability indicator since it defines the sensitivity of a protocol to detect longitudinal effects in a consortium. There is very limited knowledge about how across-session reliability of morphometry estimates might be affected by different 3T MRI systems. Moreover, there is a need for optimal acquisition and analysis protocols in order to reduce sample sizes. A recent study has shown that the longitudinal FreeSurfer segmentation offers improved within session test-retest reproducibility relative to the cross-sectional segmentation at one 3T site using a nonstandard multi-echo MPRAGE sequence. In this study we implement a multi-site 3T MRI morphometry protocol based on vendor provided T1 structural sequences from different vendors (3D MPRAGE on Siemens and Philips, 3D IR-SPGR on GE) implemented in 8 sites located in 4 European countries. The protocols used mild acceleration factors (1.5-2) when possible. We acquired across-session test-retest structural data of a group of healthy elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) and compared the across-session reproducibility of two full-brain automated segmentation methods based on either longitudinal or cross-sectional FreeSurfer processing. The segmentations include cortical thickness, intracranial, ventricle and subcortical volumes. Reproducibility is evaluated as absolute changes relative to the mean (%), Dice coefficient for volume overlap and intraclass correlation coefficients across two sessions. We found that this acquisition and analysis protocol gives comparable reproducibility results to previous studies that used longer acquisitions without acceleration. We also show that the longitudinal processing is systematically more reliable across sites regardless of MRI system differences. The reproducibility errors of the longitudinal segmentations are on average approximately half of those obtained with the cross sectional analysis for all volume segmentations and for entorhinal cortical thickness. No significant differences in reliability are found between the segmentation methods for the other cortical thickness estimates. The average of two MPRAGE volumes acquired within each test-retest session did not systematically improve the across-session reproducibility of morphometry estimates. Our results extend those from previous studies that showed improved reliability of the longitudinal analysis at single sites and/or with non-standard acquisition methods. The multi-site acquisition and analysis protocol presented here is promising for clinical applications since it allows for smaller sample sizes per MRI site or shorter trials in studies evaluating the role of potential biomarkers to predict disease progression or treatment effects.
Non-invasive pulsed arterial spin labeling (PASL) MRI is a method to study brain perfusion that does not require the administration of a contrast agent, which makes it a valuable diagnostic tool as it reduces cost and side effects. The purpose of the present study was to establish the viability of PASL as an alternative to dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC-MRI) and other perfusion imaging methods in characterizing changes in perfusion patterns caused by seizures in epileptic patients. We evaluated 19 patients with PASL. Of these, the 9 affected by high-frequency seizures were observed during the peri-ictal period (within 5hours since the last seizure), while the 10 patients affected by low-frequency seizures were observed in the post-ictal period. For comparison, 17/19 patients were also evaluated with DSC-MRI and CBF/CBV. PASL imaging showed focal vascular changes, which allowed the classification of patients in three categories: 8 patients characterized by increased perfusion, 4 patients with normal perfusion and 7 patients with decreased perfusion. PASL perfusion imaging findings were comparable to those obtained by DSC-MRI. Since PASL is a) sensitive to vascular alterations induced by epileptic seizures, b) comparable to DSC-MRI for detecting perfusion asymmetries, c) potentially capable of detecting time-related perfusion changes, it can be recommended for repeated evaluations, to identify the epileptic focus, and in follow-up and/or therapy-response assessment.
Memantine is an approved symptomatic treatment for moderate to severe Alzheimers disease that reduces the excitotoxic effects of hyperactive glutamatergic transmission. However, the exact mechanism of the effect of memantine in Alzheimers disease patients is poorly understood. Importantly, the default mode network (DMN), which plays a key role in attention, is hypoactive in Alzheimers disease and is under glutamatergic control.
We analyzed the effect of afferent input on patterns of brain electrical activation in a 31-year-old man with progressive myoclonic epilepsy (PME) by measuring the somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) amplitude at the scalp after median nerve stimulation and examining the changes in the functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level-dependent (fMRI BOLD) signal. High-amplitude SSEPs were elicited at the wrist in association with highly focal BOLD activation of the contralateral sensorimotor areas. By contrast, no diffuse activation of either the frontal or the posterior parietal cortical areas was observed, as seen in previously recorded data on SSEPs from a healthy control group. The highly focal BOLD activation in this patient suggests that cortex hyperexcitability might be limited to the sensorimotor cortex in PME. The combined EEG-fMRI findings highlight a dissociation between BOLD activation and neurophysiological findings.
One of the main features of the attentional system is the capability to select between relevant and irrelevant information. However, irrelevant information interferes with the processing of the relevant one. Using high-field magnetic resonance imaging, we examined the interference effect of a verbal (color-word) and a spatial (arrow-position) Stroop task on the activation of cortical areas known to be dedicated to the attentional control. Behaviorally, we found costs from the irrelevant information in both tasks; in the brain, we found a common neural network of activation that mainly involved the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. However, the neural circuits involved in the two tasks overlapped only partially, since processing of words in the color-word Stroop task showed a wider and more right-lateralized activation, while spatial processing in the arrow-position Stroop task resulted in a more restricted and left-lateralized activation.
Concussive head injury opens a temporary window of brain vulnerability due to the impairment of cellular energetic metabolism. As experimentally demonstrated, a second mild injury occurring during this period can lead to severe brain damage, a condition clinically described as the second impact syndrome. To corroborate the validity of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in monitoring cerebral metabolic changes following mild traumatic brain injury, apart from the magnetic field strength (1.5 or 3.0 T) and mode of acquisition, we undertook a multicentre prospective study in which a cohort of 40 athletes suffering from concussion and a group of 30 control healthy subjects were admitted. Athletes (aged 16-35 years) were recruited and examined at three different institutions between September 2007 and June 2009. They underwent assessment of brain metabolism at 3, 15, 22 and 30 days post-injury through proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the determination of N-acetylaspartate, creatine and choline-containing compounds. Values of these representative brain metabolites were compared with those observed in the group of non-injured controls. Comparison of spectroscopic data, obtained in controls using different field strength and/or mode of acquisition, did not show any difference in the brain metabolite ratios. Athletes with concussion exhibited the most significant alteration of metabolite ratios at Day 3 post-injury (N-acetylaspartate/creatine: -17.6%, N-acetylaspartate/choline: -21.4%; P?0.001 with respect to controls). On average, metabolic disturbance gradually recovered, initially in a slow fashion and, following Day 15, more rapidly. At 30 days post-injury, all athletes showed complete recovery, having metabolite ratios returned to values detected in controls. Athletes self-declared symptom clearance between 3 and 15 days after concussion. Results indicate that N-acetylaspartate determination by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy represents a non-invasive tool to accurately measure changes in cerebral energy metabolism occurring in mild traumatic brain injury. In particular, this metabolic evaluation may significantly improve, along with other clinical assessments, the management of athletes suffering from concussion. Further studies to verify the effects of a second concussive event occurring at different time points of the recovery curve of brain metabolism are needed.
Passive electrical stimulation activates various human somatosensory cortical systems including the contralateral primary somatosensory area (SI), bilateral secondary somatosensory area (SII) and bilateral insula. The effect of stimulation frequency on blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) activity remains unclear. We acquired 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in eight healthy volunteers during electrical median nerve stimulation at frequencies of 1, 3 and 10 Hz. During stimulation BOLD signal changes showed activation in the contralateral SI, bilateral SII and bilateral insula. Results of fMRI analysis showed that these areas were progressively active with the increase of rate of stimulation. As a major finding, the contralateral SI showed an increase of peak of BOLD activation from 1 to 3 Hz but reached a plateau during 10-Hz stimulation. Our finding is of interest for basic research and for clinical applications in subjects unable to perform cognitive tasks in the fMRI scanner.
To investigate the increase in MRI contrast enhancement (CE) occurring in glioblastoma during the period between surgery and initiation of chemo-radiotherapy, thirty-seven patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma were analyzed by early post-operative magnetic resonance (EPMR) imaging within three days of surgery and by pre-adjuvant magnetic resonance (PAMR) examination before adjuvant therapy. Areas of new CE were investigated by use of EPMR diffusion-weighted imaging and PAMR perfusion imaging (by arterial spin-labeling). PAMR was acquired, on average, 29.9 days later than EPMR (range 20-37 days). During this period an increased area of CE was observed for 17/37 patients. For 3/17 patients these regions were confined to areas of reduced EPMR diffusion, suggesting postsurgical infarct. For the other 14/17 patients, these areas suggested progression. For 11/17 patients the co-occurrence of hyperperfusion in PAMR perfusion suggested progression. PAMR perfusion and EPMR diffusion did not give consistent results for 3/17 patients for whom small new areas of CE were observed, presumably because of the poor spatial resolution of perfusion imaging. Before initiation of adjuvant therapy, areas of new CE of resected glioblastomas are frequently observed. Most of these suggest tumor progression, according to EPMR diffusion and PAMR perfusion criteria.
Hypothalamic abnormalities in schizophrenia have been associated with endocrine dysfunctions and stress response. The hypothalamus is involved in several pathways found disrupted in schizophrenia (e.g., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, HPA axis); however the available results on potential structural hypothalamic alterations are still controversial. The aim of the study was to investigate the volumes of the hypothalamus and the mammillary bodies in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Twenty-six patients with schizophrenia and 26 healthy controls underwent a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Hypothalamus and mammillary bodies were manually traced by a rater who was blind to subjects identity. The General Linear Model was used in group comparisons of the volumes of the hypothalamus and the mammillary bodies. The hypothalamus and mammillary body volumes were significantly larger in patients with schizophrenia than controls, with significant enlargement of the left hypothalamus and trends for significantly increased right hypothalamus and right mammillary body. The size of the mammillary bodies was inversely correlated with negative symptoms and directly correlated with anxiety. This study showed abnormally increased sizes of the hypothalamus and the mammillary bodies in schizophrenia. Mammillary bodies volumes were associated to negative symptoms and anxiety. Future longitudinal studies on the volumes of the hypothalamus and the mammillary bodies with respect to the levels of related hormones will clarify their role in modulating HPA axis in schizophrenia.
Multi-element interventions for first-episode psychosis (FEP) are promising, but have mostly been conducted in non-epidemiologically representative samples, thereby raising the risk of underestimating the complexities involved in treating FEP in real-world services.
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