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DWI and complex brain network analysis predicts vascular cognitive impairment in spontaneous hypertensive rats undergoing executive function tests

López-Gil, Xavier; Amat-Roldan, Iván; Tudela, Raúl; Castańé, Anna; Prats-Galino, Alberto; Planas, Anna M.; Farr, Tracy D.; Soria, Guadalupe

Authors

Xavier López-Gil

Iván Amat-Roldan

Raúl Tudela

Anna Castańé

Alberto Prats-Galino

Anna M. Planas

Tracy D. Farr

Guadalupe Soria



Abstract

The identification of biomarkers of vascular cognitive impairment is urgent for its early diagnosis. The aim of this study was to detect and monitor changes in brain structure and connectivity, and to correlate them with the decline in executive function. We examined the feasibility of early diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict cognitive impairment before onset in an animal model of chronic hypertension: Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Cognitive performance was tested in an operant conditioning paradigm that evaluated learning, memory, and behavioral flexibility skills. Behavioral tests were coupled with longitudinal diffusion weighted imaging acquired with 126 diffusion gradient directions and 0.3mm3 isometric resolution at 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, and 40 weeks after birth. Diffusion weighted imaging was analyzed in two different ways, by regional characterization of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices, and by assessing changes in structural brain network organization based on Q-Ball tractography. Already at the first evaluated times, DTI scalar maps revealed significant differences in many regions, suggesting loss of integrity in white and gray matter of spontaneously hypertensive rats when compared to normotensive control rats. In addition, graph theory analysis of the structural brain network demonstrated a significant decrease of hierarchical modularity, global and local efficacy, with predictive value as shown by regional three-fold cross validation study. Moreover, these decreases were significantly correlated with the behavioral performance deficits observed at subsequent time points, suggesting that the diffusion weighted imaging and connectivity studies can unravel neuroimaging alterations even overt signs of cognitive impairment become apparent.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 23, 2014
Journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Electronic ISSN 1663-4365
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number 167
APA6 Citation López-Gil, X., Amat-Roldan, I., Tudela, R., Castańé, A., Prats-Galino, A., Planas, A. M., …Soria, G. (2014). DWI and complex brain network analysis predicts vascular cognitive impairment in spontaneous hypertensive rats undergoing executive function tests. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00167
DOI https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2014.00167
Keywords DWI, DTI, Connectomics, Executive function, Vascular cognitive impairment, Animal models, In-vivo MRI, Hypertension
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2014.00167
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0
Additional Information This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. it is reproduced with permission.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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