“Memory and related cognitive functions are progressively impaired in a subgroup of individuals experiencing childhood adversity and stress. However, it is not possible to identify vulnerable individuals early, a crucial step for intervention. In this study, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and intra-hippocampal diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were employed to examine for structural signatures of cognitive adolescent vulnerabilities in a rodent model of early-life adversity. These methods were complemented by neuroanatomical and functional assessments of hippocampal network integrity during adolescence, adulthood and middle-age. The high-resolution MRI identified selective loss of dorsal hippocampal volume, and intra-hippocampal DTI uncovered disruption of dendritic structure, consistent with disrupted local connectivity, already during late adolescence in adversity-experiencing rats. Memory deteriorated over time, and stunting of hippocampal dendritic trees was apparent on neuroanatomical analyses. Thus, disrupted hippocampal neuronal structure and connectivity, associated with cognitive impairments, are detectable via non-invasive imaging modalities in rats experiencing early-life adversity. These high-resolution imaging approaches may constitute promising tools for prediction and assessment of at-risk individuals in the clinic.”
Molet J, Maras PM, Kinney-Lang E, Harris NG, Rashid F, Ivy AS, Solodkin A, Obenaus A and Baram TZ: MRI uncovers disrupted hippocampal microstructure that underlies memory impairments after early-life adversity. Hippocampus [Epub ahead of print, Sept. 22, 2016; doi: 10.1002/hipo.22661 ].