Background: Many intervention studies in preterm infants aim to improve neurodevelopmental outcome, but short-term proxy outcome measurements are lacking. Cortical plate and subplate development could be such a marker. Objective: Our aim was to provide normal DTI reference values for the cortical plate and subplate of preterm infants. Materials and methods: As part of an ongoing study we analysed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) images of 19 preterm infants without evidence of injury on conventional MRI, with normal outcome (Bayley-II assessed at age 2), and scanned in the first 4 days of life. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values in the frontal and temporal subplate and cortical plate were measured in single and multiple voxel regions of interest (ROI) placed on predefined regions. Results: Using single-voxel ROIs, statistically significant inverse correlation was found between gestational age (GA) and FA of the frontal (r = -0.5938, P = 0.0058) and temporal (r = -0.4912, P = 0.0327) cortical plate. ADC values had a significant positive correlation with GA in the frontal (r = 0.5427, P = 0.0164) and temporal (r = 0.5540, P = 0.0138) subplate. Conclusion: Diffusion tensor imaging allows in vivo exploration of the evolving cortical plate and subplate. We provide FA and ADC values of the subplate and cortical plate in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants with normal developmental outcome that can be used as reference values.

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Keywords Apparent diffusion coefficient, Cortical plate, Diffusion tensor imaging, Fractional anisotropy, Infant, Preterms, Subplate, Very low birth weight
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Journal Pediatric Radiology: roentgenology, nuclear medicine, ultrasonics, CT, MRI
Dudink, J, Buijs, J, Govaert, P, van Zwol, A.L, Conneman, N, van Goudoever, J.B, & Lequin, M.H. (2010). Diffusion tensor imaging of the cortical plate and subplate in very-low-birth-weight infants. Pediatric Radiology: roentgenology, nuclear medicine, ultrasonics, CT, MRI, 40(8), 1397–1404. doi:10.1007/s00247-010-1638-2