Brain fiber tract plasticity in experimental spinal cord injury: diffusion tensor imaging.

Publication Date



Experimental Neurology


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and immunohistochemistry were performed in spinal cord injured rats to understand the basis for activation of multiple regions in the brain observed in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. The measured fractional anisotropy (FA), a scalar measure of diffusion anisotropy, along the region encompassing corticospinal tracts (CST) indicates significant differences between control and injured groups in the 3 to 4 mm area posterior to bregma that correspond to internal capsule and cerebral peduncle. Additionally, DTI-based tractography in injured animals showed increased number of fibers that extend towards the cortex terminating in the regions that were activated in fMRI. Both the internal capsule and cerebral peduncle demonstrated an increase in GFAP-immunoreactivity compared to control animals. GAP-43 expression also indicates plasticity in the internal capsule. These studies suggest that the previously observed multiple regions of activation in spinal cord injury are, at least in part, due to the formation of new fibers.


Animals, Anisotropy, Diffusion, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Disease Models, Animal, GAP-43 Protein, Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein, Growth Cones, Internal Capsule, Male, Motor Cortex, Nerve Fibers, Myelinated, Nerve Regeneration, Neuronal Plasticity, Pyramidal Tracts, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Spinal Cord, Spinal Cord Injuries, Tegmentum Mesencephali