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Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

White Matter Reorganization and Functional Response after Focal Cerebral Ischemia in the Rat
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Author: Chrystelle Po et al.

by Chrystelle Po, Daniel Kalthoff, Young Beom Kim, Melanie Nelles, Mathias Hoehn

After stroke, the brain has shown to be able to achieve spontaneous functional recovery despite severe cerebral damage. This phenomenon is poorly understood. To address this issue, focal transient ischemia was induced by 60 min middle cerebral artery occlusion in Wistar rats. The evolution of stroke was followed using two magnetic resonance imaging modalities: diffusion spectrum imaging (acquired before, one and four weeks after stroke) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (acquired before and five weeks after stroke). To confirm the imaging observations, immunohistochemical staining for myelin, astrocytes and macrophages/microglia was added. At four weeks after stroke, a focal alteration of the diffusion anisotropy was observed between the ipsilesional ventricle and the lesion area. Using tractography this perturbation was identified as reorganization of the ipsilesional internal capsule. Functional imaging at five weeks after ischemia demonstrated activation of the primary sensorimotor cortex in both hemispheres in all rats except one animal lacking a functional response in the ipsilesional cortex. Furthermore, fiber tracking showed a transhemispheric fiber connection through the corpus callosum, which-in the rat without functional recovery-was lost. Our study shows the influence of the internal capsule reorganization, combined with inter-hemispheric connections though the corpus callosum, on the functional activation of the brain from stroke. In conclusion, tractography opens a new door to non-invasively investigate the structural correlates of lack of functional recovery after stroke.