FLAIR images at 7 Tesla MRI highlight the ependyma and the outer layers of the cerebral cortex

van Veluw, S.J., Fracasso, A. , Visser, F., Spliet, W.G.M., Luijten, P.R., Biessels, G.J. and Zwanenburg, J.J.M. (2015) FLAIR images at 7 Tesla MRI highlight the ependyma and the outer layers of the cerebral cortex. NeuroImage, 104, pp. 100-109. (doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.10.011) (PMID:25315783)

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Objectives: Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) imaging is an important clinical 'work horse' for brain MRI and has proven to facilitate imaging of both intracortical lesions as well as cortical layers at 7. T MRI. A prominent observation on 7. T FLAIR images is a hyperintense rim at the cortical surface and around the ventricles. We aimed to clarify the anatomical correlates and underlying contrast mechanisms of this hyperintense rim. Materials and Methods: Two experiments with post-mortem human brain tissue were performed. FLAIR and T2-weighted images were obtained at typical in vivo (0.8mm isotropic) and high resolution (0.25mm isotropic). At one location the cortical surface was partly removed, and scanned again. Imaging was followed by histological and immunohistochemical analysis. Additionally, several simulations were performed to evaluate the potential contribution from an artifact due to water diffusion. Results: The hyperintense rim corresponded to the outer - glia rich - layer of the cortex and disappeared upon removal of that layer. At the ventricles, the rim corresponded to the ependymal layer, and was not present at white matter/fluid borders at an artificial cut. The simulations supported the hypothesis that the hyperintense rim reflects the tissue properties in the outer cortical layers (or ependymal layer for the ventricles), and is not merely an artifact, although not all observations were explained by the simulated model of the contrast mechanism. Conclusions: 7T FLAIR seems to amplify the signal from layers I-III of the cortex and the ependyma around the ventricles. Although diffusion of water from layer I into CSF does contribute to this effect, a long T2 relaxation time constant in layer I, and probably also layer II-III, is most likely the major contributor, since the rim disappears upon removal of that layer. This knowledge can help the interpretation of imaging results in cortical development and in patients with cortical pathology.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Anatomy and histology, artifact, brain cortex, brain ventricle, cadaver, computer simulation, ependyma, glia, human, image processing, immunohistochemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, physiology, postmortem change, procedures, artifacts, cadaver, cerebral cortex, cerebral ventricles, computer simulation, ependyma, humans, image processing, computer-assisted, immunohistochemistry, magnetic resonance imaging, neuroglia, postmortem changes.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fracasso, Dr Alessio
Authors: van Veluw, S.J., Fracasso, A., Visser, F., Spliet, W.G.M., Luijten, P.R., Biessels, G.J., and Zwanenburg, J.J.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:NeuroImage
ISSN (Online):1095-9572
Published Online:12 October 2014

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