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Brain Struct Funct. 2018 Jun;223(5):2157-2179. doi: 10.1007/s00429-018-1617-1. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Post-mortem inference of the human hippocampal connectivity and microstructure using ultra-high field diffusion MRI at 11.7 T.

Author information

1
CEA NeuroSpin/UNIRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France. justine.beaujoin@cea.fr.
2
Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay, France. justine.beaujoin@cea.fr.
3
France Life Imaging, Orsay, France. justine.beaujoin@cea.fr.
4
Forschungszentrum Jülich, INM-1, Jülich, Germany.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany.
6
CEA NeuroSpin/UNIRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
7
Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay, France.
8
France Life Imaging, Orsay, France.
9
CEA NeuroSpin/UNATI, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
10
CATI Neuroimaging Platform.

Abstract

The human hippocampus plays a key role in memory management and is one of the first structures affected by Alzheimer's disease. Ultra-high magnetic resonance imaging provides access to its inner structure in vivo. However, gradient limitations on clinical systems hinder access to its inner connectivity and microstructure. A major target of this paper is the demonstration of diffusion MRI potential, using ultra-high field (11.7 T) and strong gradients (750 mT/m), to reveal the extra- and intra-hippocampal connectivity in addition to its microstructure. To this purpose, a multiple-shell diffusion-weighted acquisition protocol was developed to reach an ultra-high spatio-angular resolution with a good signal-to-noise ratio. The MRI data set was analyzed using analytical Q-Ball Imaging, Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), and Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging models. High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging estimates allowed us to obtain an accurate tractography resolving more complex fiber architecture than DTI models, and subsequently provided a map of the cross-regional connectivity. The neurite density was akin to that found in the histological literature, revealing the three hippocampal layers. Moreover, a gradient of connectivity and neurite density was observed between the anterior and the posterior part of the hippocampus. These results demonstrate that ex vivo ultra-high field/ultra-high gradients diffusion-weighted MRI allows the mapping of the inner connectivity of the human hippocampus, its microstructure, and to accurately reconstruct elements of the polysynaptic intra-hippocampal pathway using fiber tractography techniques at very high spatial/angular resolutions.

KEYWORDS:

Diffusion MRI; Human hippocampus; Microstructure imaging; Neurite density; Structural connectivity

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