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MR Imaging the spinal cord of non-human primates (NHP), such as squirrel monkey, is important since the injuries in NHP resemble those that afflict human spinal cords. Our previous studies have reported a multi-parametric MRI protocol, including functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, quantitative magnetization transfer and chemical exchange saturation transfer, which allows non-invasive detection and monitoring of injury-associated structural, functional and molecular changes over time. High signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is critical for obtaining high-resolution images and robust estimates of MRI parameters. In this work, we describe our construction and use of a single channel coil designed to maximize the SNR for imaging the squirrel monkey cervical spinal cord in a 21 cm bore magnet at 9.4 T. We first numerically optimized the coil dimension of a single loop coil and then evaluated the benefits of a quadrature design. We then built an optimized coil based on the simulation results and compared its SNR performance with a non-optimized single coil in both phantoms and in vivo.
Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are a leading cause of disability and can severely impact the quality of life. However, to date, the processes of spontaneous repair of damaged spinal cord remain incompletely understood, partly due to a lack of appropriate longitudinal tracking methods. Noninvasive, multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides potential biomarkers for the comprehensive evaluation of spontaneous repair after SCI. In this study in rats, a clinically relevant contusion injury was introduced at the lumbar level that impairs both hindlimb motor and sensory functions. Quantitative MRI measurements were acquired at baseline and serially post-SCI for up to 2 wk. The progressions of injury and spontaneous recovery in both white and gray matter were tracked longitudinally using pool-size ratio (PSR) measurements derived from quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) methods, measurements of water diffusion parameters using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and intrasegment functional connectivity derived from resting state functional MRI. Changes in these quantitative imaging measurements were correlated with behavioral readouts. We found (a) a progressive decrease in PSR values within 2 wk post-SCI, indicating a progressive demyelination at the center of the injury that was validated with histological staining, (b) PSR correlated closely with fractional anisotropy and transverse relaxation of free water, but did not show significant correlations with behavioral recovery, and (c) preliminary evidence that SCI induced a decrease in functional connectivity between dorsal horns below the injury site at 24 h. Findings from this study not only confirm the value of qMT and DTI methods for assessing the myelination state of injured spinal cord but indicate that they may also have further implications on whether therapies targeted towards remyelination may be appropriate. Additionally, a better understanding of changes after SCI provides valuable information to guide and assess interventions.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
PURPOSE - This study aims to systematically evaluate the accuracy and precision of pool size ratio (PSR) measurements from quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) acquisitions using simplified models in the context of assessing injury-associated spatiotemporal changes in spinal cords of non-human primates. This study also aims to characterize changes in the spinal tissue pathology in individual subjects, both regionally and longitudinally, in order to demonstrate the relationship between regional tissue compositional changes and sensorimotor behavioral recovery after cervical spinal cord injury (SCI).
METHODS - MRI scans were recorded on anesthetized monkeys at 9.4 T, before and serially after a unilateral section of the dorsal column tract. Images were acquired following saturating RF pulses at different offset frequencies. Models incorporating two pools of protons but with differing numbers of variable parameters were used to fit the data to derive qMT parameters. The results using different amounts of measured data and assuming different numbers of variable model parameters were compared. Behavioral impairments and recovery were assessed by a food grasping-retrieving task. Histological sections were obtained post mortem for validation of the injury.
RESULTS - QMT fitting provided maps of pool size ratio (PSR), the relative amounts of immobilized protons exchanging magnetization compared to the "free" water. All the selected modeling approaches detected a lesion/cyst at the site of injury as significant reductions in PSR values. The regional contrasts in the PSR maps obtained using the different fittings varied, but the 2-parameter fitting results showed strong positive correlations with results from 5-parameter modeling. 2-parameter fitting results with modest (>3) RF offsets showed comparable sensitivity for detecting demyelination in white matter and loss of macromolecules in gray matter around lesion sites compared to 5-parameter fitting with fully-sampled data acquisitions. Histology confirmed that decreases of PSR corresponded to regional demyelination around lesion sites, especially when demyelination occurred along the dorsal column on the injury side. Longitudinally, PSR values of injured dorsal column tract and gray matter horns exhibited remarkable recovery that associated with behavioral improvement.
CONCLUSION - Simplified qMT modeling approaches provide efficient and sensitive means to detect and characterize injury-associated demyelination in white matter tracts and loss of macromolecules in gray matter and to monitor its recovery over time.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
OBJECTIVES - To describe a case of open airway surgery with postoperative respiratory complications in a paraplegic woman and to review the unique respiratory physiology seen in patients with a history of cervical or thoracic spinal cord injury (SCI).
METHODS - Case report and literature review.
RESULTS - We describe the case of a 25-year-old paraplegic who developed tracheal stenosis after tracheotomy, eventually requiring tracheal resection and re-anastomosis. Her postoperative course was complicated by mucus plugging and severe atelectasis, necessitating reintubation. After extubation, the patient reported difficulty expectorating secretions ever since her SCI, requiring manual abdominal pressure from her family members to assist her when she needed to cough.
CONCLUSION - This first report of cricotracheal resection in a patient with paraplegia following SCI highlights the importance of an and demonstrates the unique respiratory management necessary for patients with SCI.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE - The purpose of the study is to characterize diffusion tensor imaging indices in the developing spinal cord, evaluating differences based on age and cord region. Describing the progression of DTI indices in the pediatric cord increases our understanding of spinal cord development.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - A retrospective analysis was performed on DTI acquired in 121 pediatric patients (mean, 8.6 years; range, 0.3-18.0 years) at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt from 2017 to 2018. Diffusion-weighted images (15 directions; = 750 s/mm; slice thickness, 5 mm; in-plane resolution, 1.0 × 1.0 mm) were acquired on a 3T scanner in the cervicothoracic and/or thoracolumbar cord. Manual whole-cord segmentation was performed. Images were masked and further segmented into cervical, upper thoracic, thoracolumbar, and conus regions. Analyses of covariance were performed for each DTI-derived index to investigate how age affects diffusion across cord regions, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated across age for each derived index and region. Post hoc testing was performed to analyze regional differences.
RESULTS - Analyses of covariance revealed significant correlations of age with axial diffusivity, mean diffusivity, and fractional anisotropy (all, < .001). There were also significant differences among cord regions for axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, mean diffusivity, and fractional anisotropy (all, < .001).
CONCLUSIONS - This research demonstrates that diffusion evolves in the pediatric spinal cord during development, dependent on both cord region and the diffusion index of interest. Future research could investigate how diffusion may be affected by common pediatric spinal pathologies.
© 2019 by American Journal of Neuroradiology.
Resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI) has recently revealed correlated signals in the spinal cord horns of monkeys and humans. However, the interpretation of these rsfMRI correlations as indicators of functional connectivity in the spinal cord remains unclear. Here, we recorded stimulus-evoked and spontaneous spiking activity and local field potentials (LFPs) from monkey spinal cord in order to validate fMRI measures. We found that both BOLD and electrophysiological signals elicited by tactile stimulation co-localized to the ipsilateral dorsal horn. Temporal profiles of stimulus-evoked BOLD signals covaried with LFP and multiunit spiking in a similar way to those observed in the brain. Functional connectivity of dorsal horns exhibited a U-shaped profile along the dorsal-intermediate-ventral axis. Overall, these results suggest that there is an intrinsic functional architecture within the gray matter of a single spinal segment, and that rsfMRI signals at high field directly reflect this underlying spontaneous neuronal activity.
PURPOSE - To measure the transverse relaxation time T* in healthy human cervical spinal cord gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) at 3T.
METHODS - Thirty healthy volunteers were recruited. Axial images were acquired using an averaged multi-echo gradient-echo (mFFE) T*-weighted sequence with 5 echoes. We used the signal equation for an mFFE sequence with constant dephasing gradients after each echo to jointly estimate the spin density and T* for each voxel.
RESULTS - No global difference in T* was observed between all GM (41.3 ± 5.6 ms) and all WM (39.8 ± 5.4 ms). No significant differences were observed between left (43.2 ± 6.8 ms) and right (43.4 ± 5.5 ms) ventral GM, left (38.3 ± 6.1 ms) and right (38.6 ± 6.5 ms) dorsal GM, and left (39.4 ± 5.8 ms) and right (40.3 ± 5.8 ms) lateral WM. However, significant regional differences were observed between ventral (43.4 ± 5.7 ms) and dorsal (38.4 ± 6.0 ms) GM (p < 0.05), as well as between ventral (42.9 ± 6.5 ms) and dorsal (37.9 ± 6.2 ms) WM (p < 0.05). In analyses across slices, inferior T* was longer than superior T* in GM (44.7 ms vs. 40.1 ms; p < 0.01) and in WM (41.8 ms vs. 35.9 ms; p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS - Significant differences in T* are observed between ventral and dorsal GM, ventral and dorsal WM, and superior and inferior GM and WM. There is no evidence for bilateral asymmetry in T* in the healthy cord. These values of T* in the spinal cord are notably lower than most reported values of T* in the cortex.
© 2019 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
Spinal cord lesions detected on MRI hold important diagnostic and prognostic value for multiple sclerosis. Previous attempts to correlate lesion burden with clinical status have had limited success, however, suggesting that lesion location may be a contributor. Our aim was to explore the spatial distribution of multiple sclerosis lesions in the cervical spinal cord, with respect to clinical status. We included 642 suspected or confirmed multiple sclerosis patients (31 clinically isolated syndrome, and 416 relapsing-remitting, 84 secondary progressive, and 73 primary progressive multiple sclerosis) from 13 clinical sites. Cervical spine lesions were manually delineated on T2- and T2*-weighted axial and sagittal MRI scans acquired at 3 or 7 T. With an automatic publicly-available analysis pipeline we produced voxelwise lesion frequency maps to identify predilection sites in various patient groups characterized by clinical subtype, Expanded Disability Status Scale score and disease duration. We also measured absolute and normalized lesion volumes in several regions of interest using an atlas-based approach, and evaluated differences within and between groups. The lateral funiculi were more frequently affected by lesions in progressive subtypes than in relapsing in voxelwise analysis (P < 0.001), which was further confirmed by absolute and normalized lesion volumes (P < 0.01). The central cord area was more often affected by lesions in primary progressive than relapse-remitting patients (P < 0.001). Between white and grey matter, the absolute lesion volume in the white matter was greater than in the grey matter in all phenotypes (P < 0.001); however when normalizing by each region, normalized lesion volumes were comparable between white and grey matter in primary progressive patients. Lesions appearing in the lateral funiculi and central cord area were significantly correlated with Expanded Disability Status Scale score (P < 0.001). High lesion frequencies were observed in patients with a more aggressive disease course, rather than long disease duration. Lesions located in the lateral funiculi and central cord area of the cervical spine may influence clinical status in multiple sclerosis. This work shows the added value of cervical spine lesions, and provides an avenue for evaluating the distribution of spinal cord lesions in various patient groups.
© The Author(s) (2019). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The role of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) as a contributor to maladaptive neuroplasticity underlying the maintenance of chronic pain is well established. Agmatine, an NMDAr antagonist, has been shown to reverse tactile hypersensitivity in rodent models of neuropathic pain while lacking the side effects characteristic of global NMDAr antagonism, including sedation and motor impairment, indicating a likely subunit specificity of agmatine's NMDAr inhibition. The present study assessed whether agmatine inhibits subunit-specific NMDAr-mediated current in the dorsal horn of mouse spinal cord slices. We isolated NMDAr-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in small lamina II dorsal horn neurons evoked by optogenetic stimulation of Na1.8-containing nociceptive afferents. We determined that agmatine abbreviated the amplitude, duration, and decay constant of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs similarly to the application of the GluN2B antagonist ifenprodil. In addition, we developed a site-specific knockdown of the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr. We assessed whether agmatine and ifenprodil were able to inhibit NMDAr-mediated current in the spinal cord dorsal horn of mice lacking the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr by analysis of electrically evoked EPSCs. In control mouse spinal cord, agmatine and ifenprodil both inhibited amplitude and accelerated the decay kinetics. However, agmatine and ifenprodil failed to attenuate the decay kinetics of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs in the GluN2B-knockdown mouse spinal cord. The present study indicates that agmatine preferentially antagonizes GluN2B-containing NMDArs in mouse dorsal horn neurons. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our study is the first to report that agmatine preferentially antagonizes the GluN2B receptor subunit of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in spinal cord. The preferential targeting of GluN2B receptor is consistent with the pharmacological profile of agmatine in that it reduces chronic pain without the motor side effects commonly seen with non-subunit-selective NMDA receptor antagonists.