Purpose: To evaluate the late effects of radiation-induced damages in the rat brain by means of in vivo multiparametric MRI.
Materials and methods: The right hemibrains of seven Sprague-Dawley rats were irradiated with a highly collimated 6 MV photon beam at a single dose of approximately 28 Gy. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), proton MR spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS), T2-weighted imaging, and T1-weighted imaging were performed to the same animals 12 months after radiation treatment.
Results: Compared with the contralateral side, a significantly higher percentage decrease in fractional anisotropy was observed in the ipsilateral fimbria of hippocampus (29%) than the external capsule (8%) in DTI, indicating the selective vulnerability of fimbria to radiation treatment. Furthermore, in (1)H-MRS, significantly higher choline, glutamate, lactate, and taurine peaks by 24%, 25%, 87%, and 58%, respectively, were observed relative to creatine in the ipsilateral brain. Postmortem histology confirmed these white matter degradations as well as glial fibrillary acidic protein and glutamine synthetase immunoreactivity increase in the ipsilateral brain.
Conclusion: The microstructural and metabolic changes in late radiation-induced brain injuries were documented in vivo. These multiparametric MRI measurements may help understand the white matter changes and neurotoxicity upon radiation treatment in a single setting.