Diffusion tensor imaging with direct cytopathological validation: Characterisation of decorin treatment in experimental juvenile communicating hydrocephalus

Anuriti Aojula, Hannah Botfield, James Patterson McAllister, Ana Maria Gonzalez, Osama Abdullah, Ann Logan, Alexandra Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In an effort to develop novel treatments for communicating hydrocephalus, we have shown previously that the transforming growth factor-β antagonist, decorin, inhibits subarachnoid fibrosis mediated ventriculomegaly; however decorin's ability to prevent cerebral cytopathology in communicating hydrocephalus has not been fully examined. Furthermore, the capacity for diffusion tensor imaging to act as a proxy measure of cerebral pathology in multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury has recently been demonstrated. However, the use of diffusion tensor imaging to investigate cytopathological changes in communicating hydrocephalus is yet to occur. Hence, this study aimed to determine whether decorin treatment influences alterations in diffusion tensor imaging parameters and cytopathology in experimental communicating hydrocephalus. Moreover, the study also explored whether diffusion tensor imaging parameters correlate with cellular pathology in communicating hydrocephalus. Methods: Accordingly, communicating hydrocephalus was induced by injecting kaolin into the basal cisterns in 3-week old rats followed immediately by 14 days of continuous intraventricular delivery of either human recombinant decorin (n = 5) or vehicle (n = 6). Four rats remained as intact controls and a further four rats served as kaolin only controls. At 14-days post-kaolin, just prior to sacrifice, routine magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging was conducted and the mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy, radial and axial diffusivity of seven cerebral regions were assessed by voxel-based analysis in the corpus callosum, periventricular white matter, caudal internal capsule, CA1 hippocampus, and outer and inner parietal cortex. Myelin integrity, gliosis and aquaporin-4 levels were evaluated by post-mortem immunohistochemistry in the CA3 hippocampus and in the caudal brain of the same cerebral structures analysed by diffusion tensor imaging. Results: Decorin significantly decreased myelin damage in the caudal internal capsule and prevented caudal periventricular white matter oedema and astrogliosis. Furthermore, decorin treatment prevented the increase in caudal periventricular white matter mean diffusivity (p = 0.032) as well as caudal corpus callosum axial diffusivity (p = 0.004) and radial diffusivity (p = 0.034). Furthermore, diffusion tensor imaging parameters correlated primarily with periventricular white matter astrocyte and aquaporin-4 levels. Conclusions: Overall, these findings suggest that decorin has the therapeutic potential to reduce white matter cytopathology in hydrocephalus. Moreover, diffusion tensor imaging is a useful tool to provide surrogate measures of periventricular white matter pathology in communicating hydrocephalus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 31 2016


  • Cytopathology
  • DTI
  • Decorin
  • Hydrocephalus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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