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Neuroimage. 2003 Feb;18(2):375-89.

Magnetic resonance imaging of changes elicited by status epilepticus in the rat brain: diffusion-weighted and T2-weighted images, regional blood volume maps, and direct correlation with tissue and cell damage.

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Section of Anatomy and Histology, Department of Morphological and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Verona, Strada Le Grazie 8, 37134 Verona, Italy.


The rat brain was investigated with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 12 h after the arrest of pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus lasting 4 h. Histopathological data, obtained immediately after MRI analysis, were correlated with the images through careful evaluation of tissue shrinkage. Diffusion-weighted and T2-weighted imaging showed changes throughout the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, and medial thalamus. However, only T2-weighted imaging, based on rapid acquisition relaxation-enhanced sequences, revealed in the cortex inhomogeneous hyperintensity that was highest in a band corresponding to layer V. Regional cerebral blood volume (rCBV) maps were generated using T2*-weighted gradient-echo images and an ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide contrast agent. In the cortex, rCBV peaked in superficial and deep bands exhibiting a distribution complementary to the highest T2-weighted intensity. Selective rCBV increase was also documented in the hippocampus and subcortical structures. In tissue sections, alterations indicative of marked edema were found with Nissl staining in areas corresponding to the highest T2-weighted intensity. Degenerating neurons, revealed by FluoroJadeB histochemistry, were instead concentrated in tissue exhibiting hyperperfusion in rCBV maps, such as hippocampal subfields and dentate gyrus, cortical layers II/III and VI, and medial thalamus. The data indicate that:(i) T2-weighted imaging provides a sensitive tool to investigate edematous brain alterations that follow sustained seizures; (ii) rCBV maps reveal regional hyperperfusion; (iii) rCBV peaks in tissue exhibiting marked neurodegeneration, which may not be selectively revealed by structural MRI. The findings provide an interpretation of the brain response to sustained seizures revealed in vivo by different strategies of MRI analysis.

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