Multimodal MRI Imaging of Apoptosis-Triggered Microstructural Alterations in the Postnatal Cerebral Cortex

Volodymyr Petrenko, Yohan van de Looij, Jevgenia Mihhailova, Patrick Salmon, Petra S. Hüppi, Stéphane V. Sizonenko, J. Kiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Prematurely born children often develop neurodevelopmental delay that has been correlated with reduced growth and microstructural alterations in the cerebral cortex. Much research has focused on apoptotic neuronal cell death as a key neuropathological features following preterm brain injuries. How scattered apoptotic death of neurons may contribute to microstructural alterations remains unknown. The present study investigated in a rat model the effects of targeted neuronal apoptosis on cortical microstructure using in vivo MRI imaging combined with neuronal reconstruction and histological analysis. We describe that mild, targeted death of layer IV neurons in the developing rat cortex induces MRI-defined metabolic and microstructural alterations including increased cortical fractional anisotropy. Delayed architectural modifications in cortical gray matter and myelin abnormalities in the subcortical white matter such as hypomyelination and microglia activation follow the acute phase of neuronal death and axonal degeneration. These results establish the link between mild cortical apoptosis and MRI-defined microstructure changes that are reminiscent to those previously observed in preterm babies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-962
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018


  • apoptosis
  • brain development
  • cortical plasticity
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • white matter injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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