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NeuroImage: Clinical



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© 2018 The Authors Objective: To determine whether the spatial extent and location of early-identified punctate white matter injury (WMI) is associated with regionally-specific disruptions in thalamocortical-connectivity in very-preterm born neonates. Methods: 37 very-preterm born neonates (median gestational age: 28.1 weeks; interquartile range [IQR]: 27–30) underwent early MRI (median age 32.9 weeks; IQR: 32–35), and WMI was identified in 13 (35%) neonates. Structural T1-weighted, resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (rs-fMRI, n = 34) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI, n = 31) sequences were acquired using 3 T-MRI. A probabilistic map of WMI was developed for the 13 neonates demonstrating brain injury. A neonatal atlas was applied to the WMI maps, rs-fMRI and DTI analyses to extract volumetric, functional and microstructural data from regionally-specific brain areas. Associations of thalamocortical-network strength and alterations in fractional anisotropy (FA, a measure of white-matter microstructure) with WMI volume were assessed in general linear models, adjusting for age at scan and cerebral volumes. Results: WMI volume in the superior (β = −0.007; p =.02) and posterior corona radiata (β = −0.01; p =.01), posterior thalamic radiations (β = −0.01; p =.005) and superior longitudinal fasciculus (β = −0.02; p =.001) was associated with reduced connectivity strength between thalamus and parietal resting-state networks. WMI volume in the left (β = −0.02; p =.02) and right superior corona radiata (β = −0.03; p =.008), left posterior corona radiata (β = −0.03; p =.01), corpus callosum (β = −0.11; p <.0001) and right superior longitudinal fasciculus (β = −0.02; p =.02) was associated with functional connectivity strength between thalamic and sensorimotor networks. Increased WMI volume was also associated with decreased FA values in the corpus callosum (β = −0.004, p =.015). Conclusions: Regionally-specific alterations in early functional and structural network complexity resulting from WMI may underlie impaired outcomes.


2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( Published as: Duerden EG, Halani S, Ng K, Guo T, Foong J, Glass TJA, Chau V, Branson HM, Sled JG, Whyte HE, Kelly EN, Miller SP. White matter injury predicts disrupted functional connectivity and microstructure in very preterm born neonates. Neuroimage Clin. 2019;21:101596. DOI:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.