Etherton MR, Wu O, Giese A-K, Lauer A, Boulouis G, Mills B, Cloonan L, Donahue KL, Copen W, Schaefer P, Rost NS. White Matter Integrity and Early Outcomes After Acute Ischemic Stroke. Transl Stroke Res 2019;10(6):630-638.Abstract
    Chronic white matter structural injury is a risk factor for poor long-term outcomes after acute ischemic stroke (AIS). However, it is unclear how white matter structural injury predisposes to poor outcomes after AIS. To explore this question, in 42 AIS patients with moderate to severe white matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden, we characterized WMH and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) diffusivity anisotropy metrics in the hemisphere contralateral to acute ischemia in relation to ischemic tissue and early functional outcomes. All patients underwent brain MRI with dynamic susceptibility contrast perfusion and diffusion tensor imaging within 12 h and at day 3-5 post stroke. Early neurological outcomes were measured as the change in NIH Stroke Scale score from admission to day 3-5 post stroke. Target mismatch profile, percent mismatch lost, infarct growth, and rates of good perfusion were measured to assess ischemic tissue outcomes. NAWM mean diffusivity was significantly lower in the group with early neurological improvement (ENI, 0.79 vs. 0.82 × 10, mm/s; P = 0.02). In multivariable logistic regression, NAWM mean diffusivity was an independent radiographic predictor of ENI (β = - 17.6, P = 0.037). Median infarct growth was 118% (IQR 26.8-221.9%) despite good reperfusion being observed in 65.6% of the cohort. NAWM and WMH diffusivity metrics were not associated with target mismatch profile, percent mismatch lost, or infarct growth. Our results suggest that, in AIS patients, white matter structural integrity is associated with poor early neurological outcomes independent of ischemic tissue outcomes.
    Schirmer MD, Giese A-K, Fotiadis P, Etherton MR, Cloonan L, Viswanathan A, Greenberg SM, Wu O, Rost NS. Spatial Signature of White Matter Hyperintensities in Stroke Patients. Front Neurol 2019;10:208.Abstract
    White matter hyperintensity (WMH) is a common phenotype across a variety of neurological diseases, particularly prevalent in stroke patients; however, vascular territory dependent variation in WMH burden has not yet been identified. Here, we sought to investigate the spatial specificity of WMH burden in patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS). We created a novel age-appropriate high-resolution brain template and anatomically delineated the cerebral vascular territories. We used WMH masks derived from the clinical T2 Fluid Attenuated Inverse Recovery (FLAIR) MRI scans and spatial normalization of the template to discriminate between WMH volume within each subject's anterior cerebral artery (ACA), middle cerebral artery (MCA), and posterior cerebral artery (PCA) territories. Linear regression modeling including age, sex, common vascular risk factors, and TOAST stroke subtypes was used to assess for spatial specificity of WMH volume (WMHv) in a cohort of 882 AIS patients. Mean age of this cohort was 65.23 ± 14.79 years, 61.7% were male, 63.6% were hypertensive, 35.8% never smoked. Mean WMHv was 11.58c ± 13.49 cc. There were significant differences in territory-specific, relative to global, WMH burden. In contrast to PCA territory, age (0.018 ± 0.002, < 0.001) and small-vessel stroke subtype (0.212 ± 0.098, < 0.001) were associated with relative increase of WMH burden within the anterior (ACA and MCA) territories, whereas male sex (-0.275 ± 0.067, < 0.001) was associated with a relative decrease in WMHv. Our data establish the spatial specificity of WMH distribution in relation to vascular territory and risk factor exposure in AIS patients and offer new insights into the underlying pathology.
    Schirmer MD, Dalca AV, Sridharan R, Giese A-K, Donahue KL, Nardin MJ, Mocking SJT, McIntosh EC, Frid P, Wasselius J, Cole JW, Holmegaard L, Jern C, Jimenez-Conde J, Lemmens R, Lindgren AG, Meschia JF, Roquer J, Rundek T, Sacco RL, Schmidt R, Sharma P, Slowik A, Thijs V, Woo D, Vagal A, Xu H, Kittner SJ, McArdle PF, Mitchell BD, Rosand J, Worrall BB, Wu O, Golland P, Rost NS. White matter hyperintensity quantification in large-scale clinical acute ischemic stroke cohorts - The MRI-GENIE study. Neuroimage Clin 2019;23:101884.Abstract
    White matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden is a critically important cerebrovascular phenotype linked to prediction of diagnosis and prognosis of diseases, such as acute ischemic stroke (AIS). However, current approaches to its quantification on clinical MRI often rely on time intensive manual delineation of the disease on T2 fluid attenuated inverse recovery (FLAIR), which hinders high-throughput analyses such as genetic discovery. In this work, we present a fully automated pipeline for quantification of WMH in clinical large-scale studies of AIS. The pipeline incorporates automated brain extraction, intensity normalization and WMH segmentation using spatial priors. We first propose a brain extraction algorithm based on a fully convolutional deep learning architecture, specifically designed for clinical FLAIR images. We demonstrate that our method for brain extraction outperforms two commonly used and publicly available methods on clinical quality images in a set of 144 subject scans across 12 acquisition centers, based on dice coefficient (median 0.95; inter-quartile range 0.94-0.95; p < 0.01) and Pearson correlation of total brain volume (r = 0.90). Subsequently, we apply it to the large-scale clinical multi-site MRI-GENIE study (N = 2783) and identify a decrease in total brain volume of -2.4 cc/year. Additionally, we show that the resulting total brain volumes can successfully be used for quality control of image preprocessing. Finally, we obtain WMH volumes by building on an existing automatic WMH segmentation algorithm that delineates and distinguishes between different cerebrovascular pathologies. The learning method mimics expert knowledge of the spatial distribution of the WMH burden using a convolutional auto-encoder. This enables successful computation of WMH volumes of 2533 clinical AIS patients. We utilize these results to demonstrate the increase of WMH burden with age (0.950 cc/year) and show that single site estimates can be biased by the number of subjects recruited.
    Etherton MR, Wu O, Cougo P, Giese A-K, Cloonan L, Fitzpatrick KM, Kanakis AS, Boulouis G, Karadeli HH, Lauer A, Rosand J, Furie KL, Rost NS. Integrity of normal-appearing white matter and functional outcomes after acute ischemic stroke. Neurology 2017;88(18):1701-1708.Abstract
    OBJECTIVE: To characterize the effect of white matter microstructural integrity on cerebral tissue and long-term functional outcomes after acute ischemic stroke (AIS). METHODS: Consecutive AIS patients with brain MRI acquired within 48 hours of symptom onset and 90-day modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score were included. Acute infarct volume on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWIv) and white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHv) on T2 fluid-attenuated inversion recovery MRI were measured. Median fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and axial diffusivity values were calculated within normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) in the hemisphere contralateral to the acute lesion. Regression models were used to assess the association between diffusivity metrics and acute cerebral tissue and long-term functional outcomes in AIS. Level of significance was set at p < 0.05 for all analyses. RESULTS: Among 305 AIS patients with DWIv and mRS score, mean age was 64.4 ± 15.9 years, and 183 participants (60%) were male. Median NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was 3 (interquartile range [IQR] 1-8), and median normalized WMHv was 6.19 cm3 (IQR 3.0-12.6 cm3). Admission stroke severity (β = 0.16, p < 0.0001) and small vessel stroke subtype (β = -1.53, p < 0.0001), but not diffusivity metrics, were independently associated with DWIv. However, median FA in contralesional NAWM was independently associated with mRS score (β = -9.74, p = 0.02), along with age, female sex, NIHSS score, and DWIv. CONCLUSIONS: FA decrease in NAWM contralateral to the acute infarct is associated with worse mRS category at 90 days after stroke. These data suggest that white matter integrity may contribute to functional recovery after stroke.
    Etherton MR, Wu O, Rost NS. Recent Advances in Leukoaraiosis: White Matter Structural Integrity and Functional Outcomes after Acute Ischemic Stroke. Curr Cardiol Rep 2016;18(12):123.Abstract
    Leukoaraiosis, a radiographic marker of cerebral small vessel disease detected on T2-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as white matter hyperintensity (WMH), is a key contributor to the risk and severity of acute cerebral ischemia. Prior investigations have emphasized the pathophysiology of WMH development and progression; however, more recently, an association between WMH burden and functional outcomes after stroke has emerged. There is growing evidence that WMH represents macroscopic injury to the white matter and that the extent of WMH burden on MRI influences functional recovery in multiple domains following acute ischemic stroke (AIS). In this review, we discuss the current understanding of WMH pathogenesis and its impact on AIS and functional recovery.
    Auriel E, Edlow BL, Reijmer YD, Fotiadis P, Ramirez-Martinez S, Ni J, Reed AK, Vashkevich A, Schwab K, Rosand J, Viswanathan A, Wu O, Gurol EM, Greenberg SM. Microinfarct disruption of white matter structure: a longitudinal diffusion tensor analysis. Neurology 2014;83(2):182-8.Abstract
    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the local effect of small asymptomatic infarctions detected by diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) on white matter microstructure using longitudinal structural and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). METHODS: Nine acute to subacute DWI lesions were identified in 6 subjects with probable cerebral amyloid angiopathy who had undergone high-resolution MRI both before and after DWI lesion detection. Regions of interest (ROIs) corresponding to the site of the DWI lesion (lesion ROI) and corresponding site in the nonlesioned contralateral hemisphere (control ROI) were coregistered to the pre- and postlesional scans. DTI tractography was additionally performed to reconstruct the white matter tracts containing the ROIs. DTI parameters (fractional anisotropy [FA], mean diffusivity [MD]) were quantified within each ROI, the 6-mm lesion-containing tract segments, and the entire lesion-containing tract bundle. Lesion/control FA and MD ratios were compared across time points. RESULTS: The postlesional scans (performed a mean 7.1 ± 4.7 months after DWI lesion detection) demonstrated a decrease in median FA lesion/control ROI ratio (1.08 to 0.93, p = 0.038) and increase in median MD lesion/control ROI ratio (0.97 to 1.17, p = 0.015) relative to the prelesional scans. There were no visible changes on postlesional high-resolution T1-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images in 4 of 9 lesion ROIs and small (2-5 mm) T1 hypointensities in the remaining 5. No postlesional changes in FA or MD ratios were detected in the 6-mm lesion-containing tract segments or full tract bundles. CONCLUSIONS: Asymptomatic DWI lesions produce chronic local microstructural injury. The cumulative effects of these widely distributed lesions may directly contribute to small-vessel-related vascular cognitive impairment.