Experimental In Vivo Studies


Ona Wu, PhD FAHA

Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Neuroscientist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director of Clinical Computational Neuroimaging, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Dept of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital
The research goals of Dr. Wu’s group are to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and management of patients with brain injury by quantifying and monitoring... Read more about Ona Wu, PhD FAHA
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Dijkhuizen RM, Asahi M, Wu O, Rosen BR, Lo EH. Delayed rt-PA treatment in a rat embolic stroke model: diagnosis and prognosis of ischemic injury and hemorrhagic transformation with magnetic resonance imaging. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2001;21(8):964-71.Abstract
The authors characterized effects of late recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) administration in a rat embolic stroke model with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to assess potential MRI correlates, or predictors, or both, of rt-PA-induced hemorrhage. Diffusion-, perfusion-, and postcontrast T1-weighted MRI were performed between 4 and 9 hours and at 24 hours after embolic stroke in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Treatment with either rt-PA or saline was started 6 hours after stroke. A spectrophotometric hemoglobin assay quantified hemorrhage severity. Before treatment, relative cerebral blood flow index (rCBFi) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in the ischemic territory were 30% +/- 23% and 60% +/- 5% (of contralateral), respectively, which increased to 45% +/- 39% and 68% +/- 4% 2 hours after rt-PA. After 24 hours, rCBFi and ADC were 27% +/- 27% and 59 +/- 5%. Hemorrhage volume after 24 hours was significantly greater in rt-PA-treated animals than in controls (8.7 +/- 3.7 microL vs. 5.1 +/- 2.4 microL, P < 0.05). Before rt-PA administration, clear postcontrast T1-weighted signal intensity enhancement was evident in areas of subsequent bleeding. These areas had lower rCBFi levels than regions without hemorrhage (23% +/- 22% vs. 36% +/- 29%, P < 0.05). In conclusion, late thrombolytic therapy does not necessarily lead to successful reperfusion. Hemorrhage emerged in areas with relatively low perfusion levels and early blood-brain barrier damage. Magnetic resonance imaging may be useful for quantifying effects of thrombolytic therapy and predicting risks of hemorrhagic transformation.
van Eijsden P, Notenboom RGE, Wu O, de Graan PNE, van Nieuwenhuizen O, Nicolay K, Braun KPJ. In vivo 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy, T2-weighted and diffusion-weighted MRI during lithium-pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus in the rat. Brain Res 2004;1030(1):11-8.Abstract
Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with febrile convulsions and childhood status epilepticus (SE). Since the initial precipitating injury, triggering epileptogenesis, occurs during this SE, we aimed to examine the metabolic and morphological cerebral changes during the acute phase of experimental SE noninvasively. In the rat lithium-pilocarpine model of SE, we performed quantified T(2)- and isotropic-diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 3 and 5 h of SE and acquired single-voxel (1)H MR spectra at 2, 4 and 6 h of SE. T(2) was globally decreased, most pronounced in the amygdala (Am) and piriformic cortex (Pi), in which also a significant decrease in apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was found. In contrast, ADC values increased transiently in the hippocampus (HC) and thalamus (Th). MR spectra showed a decrease in N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and choline (Cho) and an increase of lactate in a hippocampal voxel. The T(2) decrease, attributed to raised deoxyhemoglobin, and the presence of lactate both indicate a mismatch between oxygen demand and delivery. The ADC decrease, indicative of excitotoxicity, confirms that the amygdala and piriformic cortex are particularly vulnerable to lithium-pilocarpine-induced seizures. The transient ADC increase in the thalamus may reflect the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is shown to occur in this region at these time points. Neuronal damage and failure of energy-dependent formation of NAA are likely causes of an observed decrease in NAA, while the decrease in Cho is possibly due to depletion of the cholinergic system. This study illustrates that relative hypoxia, excitotoxicity and concomitant neuronal damage associated with SE can be probed noninvasively with MR. These pathological phenomena are the first to contribute to the pathophysiology of spontaneous recurrent seizures in a later stage in this animal model.
Dijkhuizen RM, Asahi M, Wu O, Rosen BR, Lo EH. Rapid breakdown of microvascular barriers and subsequent hemorrhagic transformation after delayed recombinant tissue plasminogen activator treatment in a rat embolic stroke model. Stroke 2002;33(8):2100-4.Abstract
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Thrombolytic therapy with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) after stroke increases risk of hemorrhagic transformation, particularly in areas with blood-brain barrier leakage. Our aim was to characterize acute effects of rtPA administration on the integrity of microvascular barriers. METHODS: Stroke was induced in spontaneously hypertensive rats by unilateral embolic middle cerebral artery occlusion. Six hours after stroke, rtPA was intravenously administered (n=10). Controls received saline (n=4). Extravasation of the large-diameter contrast agent monocrystalline iron oxide nanocolloid (MION) was assessed with susceptibility contrast-enhanced MRI during rtPA injection. In addition, we performed perfusion MRI and diffusion-weighted MRI. After MRI, 2 hours after rtPA treatment, intracerebral hemorrhage was quantified with a spectrophotometric hemoglobin assay. RESULTS: Late rtPA treatment resulted in increased hemorrhage volume (8.4+/-1.7 versus 2.9+/-0.9 micro L in controls; P<0.05). In MION-injected animals, during rtPA administration, transverse relaxation rate change (DeltaR2*) increased from 12.4+/-6.0 to 31.6+/-19.2 s(-1) (P<0.05) in areas with subsequent hemorrhage. Significant DeltaR2* changes were absent in nonhemorrhagic areas, in animals without injected MION, and in saline-treated animals. Thrombolytic therapy did not improve perfusion in regions with hemorrhagic transformation (cerebral blood flow index was 22.8+/-19.7% [of contralateral] at 0.5 hours before and 22.4+/-18.0% at 1 hour after rtPA administration). CONCLUSIONS: The DeltaR2* changes during rtPA delivery in MION-injected animals indicate extravasation of MION, which reflects increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. This implies that late rtPA treatment rapidly aggravates early ischemia-induced damage to microvascular barriers, thereby enhancing hemorrhagic transformation.
Dijkhuizen RM, Singhal AB, Mandeville JB, Wu O, Halpern EF, Finklestein SP, Rosen BR, Lo EH. Correlation between brain reorganization, ischemic damage, and neurologic status after transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. J Neurosci 2003;23(2):510-7.Abstract
The pattern and role of brain plasticity in stroke recovery has been incompletely characterized. Both ipsilesional and contralesional changes have been described, but it remains unclear how these relate to functional recovery. Our goal was to correlate brain activation patterns with tissue damage, hemodynamics, and neurologic status after temporary stroke, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Transverse relaxation time (T2)-weighted, diffusion-weighted, and perfusion MRI were performed at days 1 (n = 7), 3 (n = 7), and 14 (n = 7) after 2 hr unilateral middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. Functional activation and cerebrovascular reactivity maps were generated from contrast-enhanced fMRI during forelimb stimulation and hypercapnia, respectively. Before MRI, rats were examined neurologically. We detected loss of activation responses in the ipsilesional sensorimotor cortex, which was related to T2 lesion size (r = -0.858 on day 3, r = -0.979 on day 14; p < 0.05). Significant activation responses in the contralesional hemisphere were detected at days 1 and 3. The degree of shift in balance of activation between the ipsilesional and contralesional hemispheres, characterized by the laterality index, was linked to the T2 and apparent diffusion coefficient in the ipsilesional contralesional forelimb region of the primary somatosensory cortex and primary motor cortex at day 1 (r = -0.807 and 0.782, respectively; p < 0.05) and day 14 (r = -0.898 and -0.970, respectively; p < 0.05). There was no correlation between activation parameters and perfusion status or cerebrovascular reactivity. Finally, we found that the laterality index and neurologic status changed in parallel over time after stroke, so that when all time points were grouped together, neurologic status was inversely correlated with the laterality index (r = -0.571; p = 0.016). This study suggests that the degree of shift of activation balance toward the contralesional hemisphere early after stroke increases with the extent of tissue injury and that functional recovery is associated mainly with preservation or restoration of activation in the ipsilesional hemisphere.
Dijkhuizen RM, Ren J, Mandeville JB, Wu O, Ozdag FM, Moskowitz MA, Rosen BR, Finklestein SP. Functional magnetic resonance imaging of reorganization in rat brain after stroke. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2001;98(22):12766-71.Abstract
Functional recovery after stroke has been associated with brain plasticity; however, the exact relationship is unknown. We performed behavioral tests, functional MRI, and histology in a rat stroke model to assess the correlation between temporal changes in sensorimotor function, brain activation patterns, cerebral ischemic damage, and cerebrovascular reactivity. Unilateral stroke induced a large ipsilateral infarct and acute dysfunction of the contralateral forelimb, which significantly recovered at later stages. Forelimb impairment was accompanied by loss of stimulus-induced activation in the ipsilesional sensorimotor cortex; however, local tissue and perfusion were only moderately affected and cerebrovascular reactivity was preserved in this area. At 3 days after stroke, extensive activation-induced responses were detected in the contralesional hemisphere. After 14 days, we found reduced involvement of the contralesional hemisphere, and significant responses in the infarction periphery. Our data suggest that limb dysfunction is related to loss of brain activation in the ipsilesional sensorimotor cortex and that restoration of function is associated with biphasic recruitment of peri- and contralesional functional fields in the brain.
Bouts MJRJ, Westmoreland SV, de Crespigny AJ, Liu Y, Vangel M, Dijkhuizen RM, Wu O, D'Arceuil HE. Magnetic resonance imaging-based cerebral tissue classification reveals distinct spatiotemporal patterns of changes after stroke in non-human primates. BMC Neurosci 2015;16:91.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Spatial and temporal changes in brain tissue after acute ischemic stroke are still poorly understood. Aims of this study were three-fold: (1) to determine unique temporal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patterns at the acute, subacute and chronic stages after stroke in macaques by combining quantitative T2 and diffusion MRI indices into MRI 'tissue signatures', (2) to evaluate temporal differences in these signatures between transient (n = 2) and permanent (n = 2) middle cerebral artery occlusion, and (3) to correlate histopathology findings in the chronic stroke period to the acute and subacute MRI derived tissue signatures. RESULTS: An improved iterative self-organizing data analysis algorithm was used to combine T2, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and fractional anisotropy (FA) maps across seven successive timepoints (1, 2, 3, 24, 72, 144, 240 h) which revealed five temporal MRI signatures, that were different from the normal tissue pattern (P < 0.001). The distribution of signatures between brains with permanent and transient occlusions varied significantly between groups (P < 0.001). Qualitative comparisons with histopathology revealed that these signatures represented regions with different histopathology. Two signatures identified areas of progressive injury marked by severe necrosis and the presence of gitter cells. Another signature identified less severe but pronounced neuronal and axonal degeneration, while the other signatures depicted tissue remodeling with vascular proliferation and astrogliosis. CONCLUSION: These exploratory results demonstrate the potential of temporally and spatially combined voxel-based methods to generate tissue signatures that may correlate with distinct histopathological features. The identification of distinct ischemic MRI signatures associated with specific tissue fates may further aid in assessing and monitoring the efficacy of novel pharmaceutical treatments for stroke in a pre-clinical and clinical setting.
Fujiwara N, Murata Y, Arai K, Egi Y, Lu J, Wu O, Singhal AB, Lo EH. Combination therapy with normobaric oxygen (NBO) plus thrombolysis in experimental ischemic stroke. BMC Neurosci 2009;10:79.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The widespread use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the only FDA-approved acute stroke treatment, remains limited by its narrow therapeutic time window and related risks of brain hemorrhage. Normobaric oxygen therapy (NBO) may be a useful physiological strategy that slows down the process of cerebral infarction, thus potentially allowing for delayed or more effective thrombolysis. In this study we investigated the effects of NBO started simultaneously with intravenous tPA, in spontaneously hypertensive rats subjected to embolic middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke. After homologous clot injection, animals were randomized into different treatment groups: saline injected at 1 hour; tPA at 1 hour; saline at 1 hour plus NBO; tPA at 1 hour plus NBO. NBO was maintained for 3 hours. Infarct volume, brain swelling and hemorrhagic transformation were quantified at 24 hours. Outcome assessments were blinded to therapy. RESULTS: Upon clot injection, cerebral perfusion in the MCA territory dropped below 20% of pre-ischemic baselines. Both tPA-treated groups showed effective thrombolysis (perfusion restored to nearly 100%) and smaller infarct volumes (379 +/- 57 mm3 saline controls; 309 +/- 58 mm3 NBO; 201 +/- 78 mm3 tPA; 138 +/- 30 mm3 tPA plus NBO), showing that tPA-induced reperfusion salvages ischemic tissue and that NBO does not significantly alter this neuroprotective effect. NBO had no significant effect on hemorrhagic conversion, brain swelling, or mortality. CONCLUSION: NBO can be safely co-administered with tPA. The efficacy of tPA thrombolysis is not affected and there is no induction of brain hemorrhage or edema. These experimental results require clinical confirmation.
van der Zijden JP, Wu O, van der Toorn A, Roeling TP, Bleys RL, Dijkhuizen RM. Changes in neuronal connectivity after stroke in rats as studied by serial manganese-enhanced MRI. Neuroimage 2007;34(4):1650-7.Abstract
Loss of function and subsequent spontaneous recovery after stroke have been associated with physiological and anatomical alterations in neuronal networks in the brain. However, the spatiotemporal pattern of such changes has been incompletely characterized. Manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) provides a unique tool for in vivo investigation of neuronal connectivity. In this study, we measured manganese-induced changes in longitudinal relaxation rate, R(1), to assess the spatiotemporal pattern of manganese distribution after focal injection into the intact sensorimotor cortex in control rats (n=10), and in rats at 2 weeks after 90-min unilateral occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (n=10). MEMRI data were compared with results from conventional tract tracing with wheat-germ agglutinin horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP). Distinct areas of the sensorimotor pathway were clearly visualized with MEMRI. At 2 weeks after stroke, manganese-induced changes in R(1) were significantly delayed and diminished in the ipsilateral caudate putamen, thalamus and substantia nigra. Loss of connectivity between areas of the sensorimotor network was also identified from reduced WGA-HRP staining in these areas on post-mortem brain sections. This study demonstrates that MEMRI enables in vivo assessment of spatiotemporal alterations in neuronal connectivity after stroke, which may lead to improved insights in mechanisms underlying functional loss and recovery after stroke.
Wu O, Sumii T, Asahi M, Sasamata M, Ostergaard L, Rosen BR, Lo EH, Dijkhuizen RM. Infarct prediction and treatment assessment with MRI-based algorithms in experimental stroke models. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2007;27(1):196-204.Abstract
There is increasing interest in using algorithms combining multiple magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) modalities to predict tissue infarction in acute human stroke. We developed and tested a voxel-based generalized linear model (GLM) algorithm to predict tissue infarction in an animal stroke model in order to directly compare predicted outcome with the tissue's histologic outcome, and to evaluate the potential for assessing therapeutic efficacy using these multiparametric algorithms. With acute MRI acquired after unilateral embolic stroke in rats (n=8), a GLM was developed and used to predict infarction on a voxel-wise basis for saline (n=6) and recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) treatment (n=7) arms of a trial of delayed thrombolytic therapy in rats. Pretreatment predicted outcome compared with post-treatment histology was highly accurate in saline-treated rats (0.92+/-0.05). Accuracy was significantly reduced (P=0.04) in rt-PA-treated animals (0.86+/-0.08), although no significant difference was detected when comparing histologic lesion volumes. Animals that reperfused had significantly lower (P<0.01) GLM-predicted infarction risk (0.73+/-0.03) than nonreperfused animals (0.81+/-0.05), possibly reflecting less severe initial ischemic injury and therefore tissue likely more amenable to therapy. Our results show that acute MRI-based algorithms can predict tissue infarction with high accuracy in animals not receiving thrombolytic therapy. Furthermore, alterations in disease progression due to treatment were more sensitively monitored with our voxel-based analysis techniques than with volumetric approaches. Our study shows that predictive algorithms are promising metrics for diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic evaluation after acute stroke that can translate readily from preclinical to clinical settings.
Bouts MJRJ, Tiebosch IA, van der Toorn A, Viergever MA, Wu O, Dijkhuizen RM. Early identification of potentially salvageable tissue with MRI-based predictive algorithms after experimental ischemic stroke. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2013;33(7):1075-82.Abstract
Individualized stroke treatment decisions can be improved by accurate identification of the extent of salvageable tissue. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based approaches, including measurement of a 'perfusion-diffusion mismatch' and calculation of infarction probability, allow assessment of tissue-at-risk; however, the ability to explicitly depict potentially salvageable tissue remains uncertain. In this study, five predictive algorithms (generalized linear model (GLM), generalized additive model, support vector machine, adaptive boosting, and random forest) were tested in their potency to depict acute cerebral ischemic tissue that can recover after reperfusion. Acute T2-, diffusion-, and perfusion-weighted MRI, and follow-up T2 maps were collected from rats subjected to right-sided middle cerebral artery occlusion without subsequent reperfusion, for training of algorithms (Group I), and with spontaneous (Group II) or thrombolysis-induced reperfusion (Group III), to determine infarction probability-based viability thresholds and prediction accuracies. The infarction probability difference between irreversible-i.e., infarcted after reperfusion-and salvageable tissue injury-i.e., noninfarcted after reperfusion-was largest for GLM (20±7%) with highest accuracy of risk-based identification of acutely ischemic tissue that could recover on subsequent reperfusion (Dice's similarity index=0.79±0.14). Our study shows that assessment of the heterogeneity of infarction probability with MRI-based algorithms enables estimation of the extent of potentially salvageable tissue after acute ischemic stroke.
van der Zijden JP, Bouts MJRJ, Wu O, Roeling TA, Bleys RL, van der Toorn A, Dijkhuizen RM. Manganese-enhanced MRI of brain plasticity in relation to functional recovery after experimental stroke. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2008;28(4):832-40.Abstract
Restoration of function after stroke may be associated with structural remodeling of neuronal connections outside the infarcted area. However, the spatiotemporal profile of poststroke alterations in neuroanatomical connectivity in relation to functional recovery is still largely unknown. We performed in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based neuronal tract tracing with manganese in combination with immunohistochemical detection of the neuronal tracer wheat-germ agglutinin horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP), to assess changes in intra- and interhemispheric sensorimotor network connections from 2 to 10 weeks after unilateral stroke in rats. In addition, functional recovery was measured by repetitive behavioral testing. Four days after tracer injection in perilesional sensorimotor cortex, manganese enhancement and WGA-HRP staining were decreased in subcortical areas of the ipsilateral sensorimotor network at 2 weeks after stroke, which was restored at later time points. At 4 to 10 weeks after stroke, we detected significantly increased manganese enhancement in the contralateral hemisphere. Behaviorally, sensorimotor functions were initially disturbed but subsequently recovered and plateaued 17 days after stroke. This study shows that manganese-enhanced MRI can provide unique in vivo information on the spatiotemporal pattern of neuroanatomical plasticity after stroke. Our data suggest that the plateau stage of functional recovery is associated with restoration of ipsilateral sensorimotor pathways and enhanced interhemispheric connectivity.
Makris N, Papadimitriou GM, van der Kouwe A, Kennedy DN, Hodge SM, Dale AM, Benner T, Wald LL, Wu O, Tuch DS, Caviness VS, Moore TL, Killiany RJ, Moss MB, Rosene DL. Frontal connections and cognitive changes in normal aging rhesus monkeys: a DTI study. Neurobiol Aging 2007;28(10):1556-67.Abstract
Recent anatomical studies have found that cortical neurons are mainly preserved during the aging process while myelin damage and even axonal loss is prominent throughout the forebrain. We used diffusion tensor imaging (DT-MRI) to evaluate the hypothesis that during the process of normal aging, white matter changes preferentially affect the integrity of long corticocortical association fiber tracts, specifically the superior longitudinal fasciculus II and the cingulum bundle. This would disrupt communication between the frontal lobes and other forebrain regions leading to cognitive impairments. We analyzed DT-MRI datasets from seven young and seven elderly behaviorally characterized rhesus monkeys, creating fractional anisotropy (FA) maps of the brain. Significant age-related reductions in mean FA values were found for the superior longitudinal fasciculus II and the cingulum bundle, as well as the anterior corpus callosum. Comparison of these FA reductions with behavioral measures demonstrated a statistically significant linear relationship between regional FA and performance on a test of executive function. These findings support the hypothesis that alterations to the integrity of these long association pathways connecting the frontal lobe with other forebrain regions contribute to cognitive impairments in normal aging. To our knowledge this is the first investigation reporting such alterations in the aging monkey.