Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 224, Issue 5, pp 1815–1829 | Cite as

In vivo high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging of the developing neonatal rat cortex and its relationship to glial and dendritic maturation

  • Markus Breu
  • Dominik Reisinger
  • Liangcheng Tao
  • Dan Wu
  • Yajing Zhang
  • Matthew D. Budde
  • Ali Fatemi
  • Arvind P. Pathak
  • Jiangyang ZhangEmail author
Original Article


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is increasingly utilized as a sensitive tool for studying brain maturation and injuries during the neonatal period. In this study, we acquired high resolution in vivo DTI data from neonatal rat brains from postnatal day 2 (P2) to P10 and correlated temporal changes in DTI derived markers with microstructural organization of glia, axons, and dendrites during this critical period of brain development. Group average images showed dramatic temporal changes in brain morphology, fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD). Most cortical regions showed a monotonous decline in FA and an initial increase in MD from P2 to P8 that declined slightly by P10. Qualitative histology revealed rapid maturation of the glial and dendritic networks in the developing cortex. In the cingulate and motor cortex, the decreases in FA over time significantly correlated with structural anisotropy values computed from histological sections stained with glial and dendritic markers. However, in the sensory and visual cortex, other factors probably contributed to the observed decreases in FA. We did not observe any significant correlations between FA and structural anisotropy computed from the axonal histological marker.


Rat Cortex Development Neonatal Diffusion tensor imaging Maturation Glia 



This study is funded by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (Grant No. R01NS102904) and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant No. R01HD074593).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All experimental procedures were approved by the Animal Use and Care Committee at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. This study did not involve human subjects. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01HD074593 and R01NS102904.

Supplementary material

429_2019_1878_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1644 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Breu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Dominik Reisinger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Liangcheng Tao
    • 3
  • Dan Wu
    • 3
  • Yajing Zhang
    • 3
  • Matthew D. Budde
    • 5
  • Ali Fatemi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arvind P. Pathak
    • 3
  • Jiangyang Zhang
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of NeurogeneticsKennedy Krieger InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent MedicineMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  5. 5.Department of NeurosurgeryMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  6. 6.Department of RadiologyNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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