In utero localized diffusion MRI of the embryonic mouse brain microstructure and injury

Dan Wu, Jun Lei, Jason M. Rosenzweig, Irina Burd, Jiangyang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose To develop an in vivo diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) technique to study embryonic mouse brain structure and injury. Materials and Methods Pregnant CD-1 mice were examined on embryonic day 17 on an 11.7T scanner. Spatially selective excitation pulses were used to achieve localized imaging of individual mouse brains, in combination with a 3D fast imaging sequence to acquire dMRI at 0.16-0.2 mm isotropic resolution. Subject motions were corrected by navigator echoes and image registration. Further acceleration was achieved by simultaneous imaging of two embryos in an interleaved fashion. We applied this technique to detect embryonic brain injury in a mouse model of intrauterine inflammation. Results With the localized imaging technique, we achieved in utero high-resolution T2-weighted and dMRI of the embryonic mouse brain for the first time. Early embryonic brain structures were delineated from diffusion tensor images, and major white matter tracts were reconstructed in 3D. Comparison with ex vivo data showed significant changes in the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), but mostly unchanged fractional anisotropy. In the inflammation-affected embryonic brains, ADC in the cortical regions was reduced at 6 hours after the injury, potentially caused by cellular edema. Conclusion The feasibility of in utero dMRI of embryonic mouse brains was demonstrated. The technique is important for noninvasive monitoring of embryonic mouse brain microstructure and injury. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2015;42:717-728.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-728
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • MRI
  • in utero
  • localized diffusion
  • microstructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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