Recent neuroimaging findings have highlighted the impact of premature birth on subcortical development and morphological changes in the deep grey nuclei and ventricular system. To help characterize subcortical microstructural changes in preterm neonates, we recently implemented a multivariate tensor-based method (mTBM). This method allows to precisely measure local surface deformation of brain structures in infants. Here, we investigated ventricular abnormalities and their spatial relationships with surrounding subcortical structures in preterm neonates. We performed regional group comparisons on the surface morphometry and relative position of the lateral ventricles between 19 full-term and 17 preterm born neonates at term-equivalent age. Furthermore, a relative pose analysis was used to detect individual differences in translation, rotation, and scale of a given brain structure with respect to an average. Our mTBM results revealed broad areas of alterations on the frontal horn and body of the left ventricle, and narrower areas of differences on the temporal horn of the right ventricle. A significant shift in the rotation of the left ventricle was also found in preterm neonates. Furthermore, we located significant correlations between morphology and pose parameters of the lateral ventricles and that of the putamen and thalamus. These results show that regional abnormalities on the surface and pose of the ventricles are also associated with alterations on the putamen and thalamus. The complementarity of the information provided by the surface and pose analysis may help to identify abnormal white and grey matter growth, hinting toward a pattern of neural and cellular dysmaturation.
Keywords: Lateral ventricles; Multivariate tensor-based morphometry (mTBM); Prematurity; Putamen; Relative pose; Thalamus.