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Neuroreport. 2018 Oct 17;29(15):1282-1287. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001106.

Thalamic atrophy and dysfunction in patients with mild-to-moderate traumatic diffuse axonal injury: a short-term and mid-term MRI study.

Wu L1,2, Zhou F1,2, Zhang Y3, Li J1,2, Kuang H1,2, Zhan J1,2, Peng D1,2, He L1,2, Zeng X1,2, Gong H1,2.

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Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital.
Jiangxi Province Medical Imaging Research Institute, Nanchang, People's Republic of China.
Department of Medical, Graduate College, Nanchang University.


Disrupted white matter structure has been established in patients with diffuse axonal injury (DAI), but morphological changes in gray matter and local intrinsic activity in the short and midterm (before 6 months) have not been documented in DAI patients. We hypothesized that regionally selective atrophy observed in deep gray matter in the short-term and mid-term periods in patients with mild-to-moderate DAI, local atrophy, and/or dysfunction would be related to clinical characteristics. We evaluated the changes in regional density and synchronization in 18 DAI patients separately using Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration through Exponentiated Lie algebra-enhanced voxel-based morphometry and regional homogeneity (ReHo). Compared with the controls, DAI patients showed a decreased density in the bilateral thalami and decreased ReHo values in the ventral anterior and ventral lateral nuclei of the bilateral thalami. Pearson's correlation analysis showed that decreased density in the bilateral thalami was correlated negatively with time since injury and decreased ReHo values in the ventral anterior and ventral lateral nuclei of the bilateral thalami were associated with a worsened motor assessment scale. These findings suggest that mild-to-moderate traumatic DAI within the short and midterm could lead to thalamic atrophy and that dysfunction in the bilateral thalami is associated with declining motor function. This study could potentially provide complementary evidence as an important element in longitudinal studies.

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