Objectives: To compare regional cerebral cortical microstructural organization between preterm infants at term-equivalent age (TEA) and healthy full-term newborns, and to examine the impact of clinical risk factors on cerebral cortical micro-organization in the preterm cohort.
Study design: We prospectively enrolled very preterm infants (gestational age (GA) at birth<32 >weeks; birthweight<1500 >g) and healthy full-term controls. Using non-invasive 3T diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics, we quantified regional micro-organization in ten cerebral cortical areas: medial/dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior/posterior cingulate cortex, insula, posterior parietal cortex, motor/somatosensory/auditory/visual cortex. ANCOVA analyses were performed controlling for sex and postmenstrual age at MRI.
Results: We studied 91 preterm infants at TEA and 69 full-term controls. Preterm infants demonstrated significantly higher diffusivity in the prefrontal, parietal, motor, somatosensory, and visual cortices suggesting delayed maturation of these cortical areas. Additionally, postnatal hydrocortisone treatment was related to accelerated microstructural organization in the prefrontal and somatosensory cortices.
Conclusions: Preterm birth alters regional microstructural organization of the cerebral cortex in both neurocognitive brain regions and areas with primary sensory/motor functions. We also report for the first time a potential protective effect of postnatal hydrocortisone administration on cerebral cortical development in preterm infants.
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Bouyssi-Kobar, M., Brossard-Racine, M., Jacobs, M., Murnick, J., Chang, T., & Limperopoulos, C. (2018). Regional microstructural organization of the cerebral cortex is affected by preterm birth.. NeuroImage Clinical, 18 (). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2018.03.020