Assessment of axonal fiber tract architecture in excised rat spinal cord by localized NMR q-space imaging: Simulations and experimental studies

Chih Liang Chin, Felix W. Wehrli, Yingli Fan, Scott N. Hwang, Eric D. Schwartz, Jonathan Nissanov, David B. Hackney

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NMR q-space imaging is a method designed to obtain information from porous materials where diffusion-diffraction phenomena were observed from which pore size was derived. Recently, the technique has been applied to the study of biological structures as well. Although diffusive diffraction has so far not been observed in multicellular systems, displacement profiles have been used with some success as a means to estimate structure size. However, there have been no quantitative correlations of the retrieved structure sizes with histology. Clearly, the complexity of tissue architecture poses significant challenges to the interpretation of q-space data. In this work, simulations were first performed on a two-compartment model to demonstrate the effects of interference of the diffraction patterns arising from intra and extra-axonal compartments and finite boundary permeability on q-space data. Second, q-space echo attenuation was simulated on the basis of histologic images of various rat spinal cord fiber tracts and the information obtained from the displacement profiles were compared with structural parameters computed from the histologic images. The results show that calculated mean displacements and kurtosis parallel mean axon size and axonal density. Finally, spatially localized q-space measurements were carried out at the locations where simulations had previously been performed, resulting in displacement data that support those obtained by simulation. The data suggest the NMR q-space approach has potential for non-destructive analysis of the axonal architecture in the mammalian spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-740
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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