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Neuroimage. 2014 Oct 15;100:24-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.05.065. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Long-term reorganization of structural brain networks in a rabbit model of intrauterine growth restriction.

Author information

1
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: dbatalle@clinic.ub.es.
2
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: emunozm@clinic.ub.es.
3
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: aarbat@clinic.ub.es.
4
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain; Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department, ICGON, Hospital Clínic, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: miriamil@clinic.ub.es.
5
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain; Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department, ICGON, Hospital Clínic, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: ffiguera@clinic.ub.es.
6
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain; Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department, ICGON, Hospital Clínic, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: eixarch@clinic.ub.es.
7
Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain; Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department, ICGON, Hospital Clínic, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: gratacos@clinic.ub.es.

Abstract

Characterization of brain changes produced by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is among the main challenges of modern fetal medicine and pediatrics. This condition affects 5-10% of all pregnancies and is associated with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders. Better understanding of the brain reorganization produced by IUGR opens a window of opportunity to find potential imaging biomarkers in order to identify the infants with a high risk of having neurodevelopmental problems and apply therapies to improve their outcomes. Structural brain networks obtained from diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a promising tool to study brain reorganization and to be used as a biomarker of neurodevelopmental alterations. In the present study this technique is applied to a rabbit animal model of IUGR, which presents some advantages including a controlled environment and the possibility to obtain high quality MRI with long acquisition times. Using a Q-Ball diffusion model, and a previously published rabbit brain MRI atlas, structural brain networks of 15 IUGR and 14 control rabbits at 70 days of age (equivalent to pre-adolescence human age) were obtained. The analysis of graph theory features showed a decreased network infrastructure (degree and binary global efficiency) associated with IUGR condition and a set of generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA) weighted measures associated with abnormal neurobehavior. Interestingly, when assessing the brain network organization independently of network infrastructure by means of normalized networks, IUGR showed increased global and local efficiencies. We hypothesize that this effect could reflect a compensatory response to reduced infrastructure in IUGR. These results present new evidence on the long-term persistence of the brain reorganization produced by IUGR that could underlie behavioral and developmental alterations previously described. The described changes in network organization have the potential to be used as biomarkers to monitor brain changes produced by experimental therapies in IUGR animal model.

KEYWORDS:

Animal model; Connectome; Connectomics; Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; Fetal growth restriction; Low birth weight; Neurobehavior; Object Recognition Task; Open Field Behavioral Test; Q-Ball

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