Brain development after neonatal intermittent hyperoxia-hypoxia in the rat studied by longitudinal mri and immunohistochemistry

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Neonatal intermittent hyperoxia-hypoxia (IHH) is involved in the pathogenesis of retinopathy of prematurity. Whether similar oxygen fluctuations will create pathological changes in the grey and white matter of the brain is unknown.<br /><br />METHODS: From birth until postnatal day 14 (P14), two litters (total n = 22) were reared in IHH: hyperoxia (50% O2) interrupted by three consecutive two-minute episodes of hypoxia (12% O2) every sixth hour. Controls (n = 8) were reared in room-air (20.9% O2). Longitudinal MRI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging and T2-mapping) was performed on P14 and P28 and retinal and brain tissue were examined for histopathological changes. Long-term neurodevelopment was assessed on P20 and P27.<br /><br />RESULTS: Mean, radial and axial diffusivity were higher in white matter of IHH versus controls at P14 (p < 0.04), while fractional anisotropy (FA) was lower in the hippocampal fimbria and tended to be lower in corpus callosum (p = 0.08) and external capsule (p = 0.05). White matter diffusivity in IHH was similar to controls at P28. Higher cortical vessel density (p = 0.005) was observed at P14. Cortical and thalamic T2-relaxation time and mean diffusivity were higher in the IHH group at P14 (p ≤ 0.03), and albumin leakage was present at P28. Rats in the IHH group ran for a longer time on a Rotarod than the control group (p ≤ 0.005). Pups with lower bodyweight had more severe MRI alterations and albumin leakage.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: IHH led to subtle reversible changes in brain white matter diffusivity, grey matter water content and vascular density. However, alterations in blood-brain barrier permeability may point to long-term effects. The changes seen after IHH exposure were more severe in animals with lower bodyweight and future studies should aim at exploring possible interactions between IHH and growth restriction.

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Morken, T. S., Nyman, A. K. G., Sandvig, I., Torp, S. H., Skranes, J., Goa, P. E., … Widerøe, M. (2013). Brain development after neonatal intermittent hyperoxia-hypoxia in the rat studied by longitudinal mri and immunohistochemistry. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084109

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