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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Feb;30(2):440-8. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2009.215. Epub 2009 Oct 21.

Sepsis-associated encephalopathy: a magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy study.

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ICU, Instituto de Pesquisa Clínica Evandro Chagas, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Brain dysfunction is frequently observed in sepsis as a consequence of changes in cerebral structure and metabolism, resulting in worse outcome and reduced life-quality of surviving patients. However, the mechanisms of sepsis-associated encephalopathy development and a better characterization of this syndrome in vivo are lacking. Here, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to assess brain morphology and metabolism in a murine sepsis model (cecal ligation and puncture, CLP). Sham-operated and CLP mice were subjected to a complete MRI session at baseline, 6 and 24 h after surgery. Accumulation of vasogenic edematic fluid at the base of the brain was observed in T(2)-weighted image at 6 and 24 h after CLP. Also, the water apparent diffusion coefficients in both hippocampus and cortex were decreased, suggesting a cytotoxic edema in brains of nonsurvival septic animals. Moreover, the N-acetylaspartate/choline ratio was reduced in brains of septic mice, indicating neuronal damage. In conclusion, noninvasive assessment by MRI allowed the identification of new aspects of brain damage in sepsis, including cytotoxic and vasogenic edema as well as neuronal damage. These findings highlight the potential applications of MRI techniques for the diagnostic and therapeutic studies in sepsis.

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