Measuring Cortical Neurite-Dispersion and Perfusion in Preterm-Born Adolescents Using Multi-modal MRI
As a consequence of a global increase in rates of extremely preterm birth, predicting the long term impact of preterm birth has become an important focus of research. Cohorts of extremely preterm born subjects studied in the 1990s are now beginning to reach adulthood and the long term structural alterations of disrupted neurodevelopment in gestation can now be investigated, for instance with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Disruption to normal development as a result of preterm birth is likely to result in both cerebrovascular and microstructural differences compared to term-born controls. Of note, arterial spin labelled MRI provides a marker of cerebral blood flow, whilst multi-compartment diffusion models provide information on the cerebral microstructure, including that of the cortex. We apply these techniques to a cohort of 19 year-old adolescents consisting of both extremely-preterm and term-born individuals and investigate the structural and functional correlations of these MR modalities. Work of this type, revealing the long-term structural and functional differences in preterm cohorts, can help better inform on the likely outcomes of contemporary extremely preterm newborns and provides an insight into the lifelong effects of preterm birth.
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