PURPOSE - Numerous studies have adopted resting-state functional MRI methods to infer functional connectivity between cortical regions, but very few have translated them to the spinal cord, despite its critical role in the central nervous system. Resting-state functional connectivity between gray matter horns of the spinal cord has previously been shown to be detectable in humans and nonhuman primates, but it has not been reported previously in rodents.
METHODS - Resting-state functional MRI of the cervical spinal cord of live anesthetized rats was performed at 9.4 T. The quality of the functional images acquired was assessed, and quantitative analyses of functional connectivity in C4-C7 of the spinal cord were derived.
RESULTS - Robust gray matter horn-to-horn connectivity patterns were found that were statistically significant when compared with adjacent control regions. Specifically, dorsal-dorsal and ventral-ventral connectivity measurements were most prominent, while ipsilateral dorsal-ventral connectivity was also observed but to a lesser extent. Quantitative evaluation of reproducibility also revealed moderate robustness in the bilateral sensory and motor networks that was weaker in the dorsal-ventral connections.
CONCLUSIONS - This study reports the first evidence of resting-state functional circuits within gray matter in the rat spinal cord, and verifies their detectability using resting-state functional MRI at 9.4 T. Magn Reson Med 79:2773-2783, 2018. © 2017 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
© 2017 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.