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Neuroscience Brown Bag Series

Thursday, January 18, 2018,
  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 316

Li Min Chen, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiology & Radiological Sciences

Vanderbilt Brain Institute

Probing spinal cord plasticity after injury with multi-parametric MRI in monkeys

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating medical condition that disrupts neural pathways, can lead to severe sensory impairment and motor deficits, and severely worsens the quality of life of SCI patients. Over time, however some aspects of impaired function can recover. There has long existed a need for objective, noninvasive metrics of the nature of temporal changes and recovery of injured spinal cord tissue from structural, functional, and molecular perspectives. Non-invasive quantitative MRI and fMRI are well suited for these purposes. These methods have been technically challenging, mainly due to the small size of the spinal cord, MRI field inhomogeneity, and motion artifacts caused by cerebral spinal fluid pulsation associated with cardiac and respiratory cycles. I will report our new developments of multi-parametric CEST, qMT, DTI, and fMRI for longitudinal quantification of the spontaneous recovery of injured spinal cord tissue and function. I will show data illustrating the power of such an approach for monitoring changes of molecular composition (with CEST), white matter microstructure and number of traceable white matter bundles (with DTI), myelination state (with qMT), and status of functional connectivity of grey matter horns (with resting state fMRI) in a well-controlled primate SCI model. Correlation analysis of the MRI/fMRI metrics and the indices of the behavioral impairment supports the clinical relevance of these non-invasive measures. These metrics have the potential to become sensitive and objective imaging biomarkers for evaluating SCI injury severity, clinical prognosis, and effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.