Indexed on: 17 Feb '17Published on: 17 Feb '17Published in: NMR in Biomedicine
Structural reorganization in white matter (WM) after stroke is a potential contributor to substitute or to newly establish the functional field on the injured brain in nature. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is an imaging modality that can be used to evaluate damage and recovery within the brain. This method of imaging allows for in vivo assessment of the restricted movements of water molecules in WM and provides a detailed look at structural connectivity in the brain. For longitudinal DTI studies after a stroke, the conventional region of interest method and voxel-based analysis are highly dependent on the user-hypothesis and parameter settings for implementation. In contrast, tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) allows for reliable voxel-wise analysis via the projection of diffusion-derived parameters onto an alignment-invariant WM skeleton. In this study, spatiotemporal WM changes were examined with DTI-derived parameters (fractional anisotropy, FA; mean diffusivity, MD; axial diffusivity, DA; radial diffusivity, RD) using TBSS 2 h to 6 weeks after experimental focal ischemic stroke in rats (N = 6). FA values remained unchanged 2-4 h after the stroke, followed by a continuous decrease in the ipsilesional hemisphere from 24 h to 2 weeks post-stroke and gradual recovery from the ipsilesional corpus callosum to the external capsule until 6 weeks post-stroke. In particular, the fibers in these areas were extended toward the striatum of the ischemic boundary region at 6 weeks on tractography. The alterations of the other parameters in the ipsilesional hemisphere showed patterns of a decrease at the early stage, a subsequent pseudo-normalization of MD and DA, a rapid reduction of RD, and a progressive increase in MD, DA and RD with a decreased extent in the injured area at later stages. The findings of this study may reflect the ongoing processes on tissue damage and spontaneous recovery after stroke.