The Cerebellar-Cerebral Microstructure Is Disrupted at Multiple Sites in Very Preterm Infants with Cerebellar Haemorrhage

Neonatology. 2018;113(2):93-99. doi: 10.1159/000480695. Epub 2017 Nov 9.


Background: Recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have prompted reconsideration of the anatomical correlates of adverse outcomes in preterm infants. The importance of the contribution made by the cerebellum is now increasingly appreciated. The effect of cerebellar haemorrhage (CBH) on the microstructure of the cerebellar-cerebral circuit is largely unexplored.

Objectives: To investigate the effect of CBH on the microstructure of cerebellar-cerebral connections in preterm infants aged <32 gestational weeks.

Methods: Infants underwent diffusion tensor MRI at term-equivalent age. MRI was evaluated for CBH and additional supratentorial brain injury using a validated scoring system. Region of interest-based measures of brain microstructure (fractional anisotropy [FA] and apparent diffusion coefficient) were quantified in 5 vulnerable regions (the centrum semiovale, posterior limb of the internal capsule, corpus callosum, and superior and middle cerebellar peduncles). Group differences between infants with CBH and infants without CBH were assessed.

Results: There were 267 infants included in the study. Infants with CBH (isolated and combined) had significantly lower FA values in all regions investigated. Infants with isolated CBH showed lower FA in the middle and superior cerebellar peduncles and in the posterior limb of the internal capsule.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that CBH causes alterations in localised and remote WM pathways in the developing brain. The disruption of the cerebellar-cerebral microstructure at multiple sites adds further support for the concept of developmental diaschisis, which is propagated as an explanation for the consequences of early cerebellar injury on cognitive and affective domains.

Keywords: Apparent diffusion coefficient; Brain injury; Cerebellar haemorrhage; Cerebellar-cerebral microstructure; Diffusion-tensor imaging; Fractional anisotropy; MRI; Preterm infants.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Extremely Premature
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies