Diffusion Tensor Imaging Abnormalities in the Cerebral White Matter Correlate with Sex-Dependent Neurobehavioral Deficits in Adult Mice with Neonatal Ischemia

Markus Breu, Jiangyang Zhang, Michael Porambo, Mikhail Pletnikov, Katharina Goeral, Mihir Kakara, Michael V. Johnston, Ali Fatemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Neonatal white matter injury (NWMI) is the leading cause of cerebral palsy in prematurely born children. In order to develop a test bed for therapeutics, we recently reported a mouse model of NWMI by using a modified Rice-Vannucci model of neonatal ischemia on postnatal day 5 (P5) in CD-1 mice. We have previously shown that these mice illustrate initial neuroinflammation and oligodendroglial differentiation arrest followed by long-term dysmyelination, periventricular astrogliosis and axonal injury, resembling human NWMI. The objective of this study was to determine the sex-dependent long-term effects of neonatal brain injury on neurobehavioral and advanced in vivo neuroimaging indices in this mouse model, and to correlate these variables with histopathology. Methods: After right common artery ligation on P5, in vivo T2-weighted imaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were performed on ligated and control animals at 4 and 8 weeks. Common sets of regions of interest were used to compare fractional anisotropy (FA) values between ischemic and control mice. Behavioral testing (open field, startle response and grip strength) was performed at adult age. Finally, the animals were sacrificed for immunohistochemical (IHC) assessment of major white matter tracts. Results: DTI revealed significant sex-dependent changes in FA values ipsi- and contralateral to the ligation. Behavioral testing showed decreased reaction to acoustic stimuli in males but not females. Similarly, increased number of rearings and lack of novelty-induced habituation in the open field were encountered only in the male subgroup. Several regional correlations were found between FA values and these behavioral alterations. IHC studies revealed degeneration of mature oligodendrocytes and damage of white matter tracts in ligated animals, as previously reported in this model, and showed regional correlation with in vivo FA values and behavioral alterations. Conclusions: Our findings suggest structural sex-dependent long-term abnormalities after neonatal ischemia. These changes lead to behavioral deficits resembling common problems of patients with cerebral palsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Behavior
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Ischemia
  • Perinatal brain injury
  • White matter injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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