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Myelination of Preterm Brain Networks at Adolescence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Beatriz Laureano, Hassna Irzan, Sébastien Ourselin, Neil Marlow, Andrew Melbourne

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Event3rd International Workshop on Uncertainty for Safe Utilization of Machine Learning in Medical Imaging, UNSURE 2021, and the 6th International Workshop on Perinatal, Preterm and Paediatric Image Analysis, PIPPI 2021, held in conjunction with the 24th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention, MICCAI 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 1 Oct 20211 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work is supported by the EPSRC-funded UCL Centre for Doctoral Training in Medical Imaging (EP/L016478/1), the Department of Health NIHR-funded Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospitals and Medical Research Council (MR/N024869/1). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

King's Authors


Prematurity and preterm stressors severely affect the development of infants born before 37 weeks of gestation, with increasing effects seen at earlier gestations. Although preterm mortality rates have declined due to the advances in neonatal care, disability rates, especially in middle-income settings, continue to grow. With the advances in MRI imaging technology, there has been a focus on safely imaging the preterm brain to better understand its development and discover the brain regions and networks affected by prematurity. Such studies aim to support interventions and improve the neurodevelopment of preterm infants and deliver accurate prognoses. Few studies, however, have focused on the fully developed brain of preterm born infants, especially in extremely preterm subjects. To assess the long-term effect of prematurity on the adult brain, myelin related biomarkers such as myelin water fraction and g-ratio are measured for a cohort of 19-year-old extremely preterm subjects. Using multi-modal imaging techniques that combine T2 relaxometry and neurite density information, the results show that specific regions of the brain associated with white matter injuries due to preterm birth, such as the Posterior Limb of the Internal Capsule and Corpus Callosum, are still less myelinated in adulthood. Such findings might imply reduced connectivity in the adult preterm brain and explain the poor cognitive outcome.

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