Mar 25, 2022

Publication Updates from the Chen Lab

A photo of Dr. Jean Chen
Dr. Jean Chen

The lab of MBP scientist Dr. Jean Chen has published a number of papers in the past month. Below is a brief overview of these publications.

Please join the Department in congratulating Dr. Chen and the members of her lab on these remarkable achievements.

Mapping oxidative metabolism in the human brain with calibrated fMRI in health and disease’, published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. Written in collaboration with Yale University.

Article Abstract
Conventional functional MRI (fMRI) with blood-oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast is an important tool for mapping human brain activity non-invasively. Recent interest in quantitative fMRI has renewed the importance of oxidative neuroenergetics as reflected by cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO2) to support brain function. Dynamic CMRO2 mapping by calibrated fMRI require multi-modal measurements of BOLD signal along with cerebral blood flow (CBF) and/or volume (CBV). In human subjects this “calibration” is typically performed using a gas mixture containing small amounts of carbon dioxide and/or oxygen-enriched medical air, which are thought to produce changes in CBF (and CBV) and BOLD signal with minimal or no CMRO2 changes. However non-human studies have demonstrated that the “calibration” can also be achieved without gases, revealing good agreement between CMRO2 changes and underlying neuronal activity (e.g., multi-unit activity and local field potential). Given the simpler set-up of gas-free calibrated fMRI, there is evidence of recent clinical applications for this less intrusive direction. This up-to-date review emphasizes technological advances for such translational gas-free calibrated fMRI experiments, also covering historical progression of the calibrated fMRI field that is impacting neurological and neurodegenerative investigations of the human brain.

View the article on the Sage Journals website.

Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging signal variations in aging: The role of neural activity’, published in Human Brain Mapping.

Article Abstract
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) has been extensively used to study brain aging, but the age effect on the frequency content of the rs-fMRI signal has scarcely been examined. Moreover, the neuronal implications of such age effects and age–sex interaction remain unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of age and sex on the rs-fMRI signal frequency using the Leipzig mind–brain–body data set. Over a frequency band of up to 0.3 Hz, we found that the rs-fMRI fluctuation frequency is higher in the older adults, although the fluctuation amplitude is lower. The rs-fMRI signal frequency is also higher in men than in women. Both age and sex effects on fMRI frequency vary with the frequency band examined but are not found in the frequency of physiological-noise components. This higher rs-fMRI frequency in older adults is not mediated by the electroencephalograph (EEG)-frequency increase but a likely link between fMRI signal frequency and EEG entropy, which vary with age and sex. Additionally, in different rs-fMRI frequency bands, the fMRI-EEG amplitude ratio is higher in young adults. This is the first study to investigate the neuronal contribution to age and sex effects in the frequency dimension of the rs-fMRI signal and may lead to the development of new, frequency-based rs-fMRI metrics. Our study demonstrates that Fourier analysis of the fMRI signal can reveal novel information about aging. Furthermore, fMRI and EEG signals reflect different aspects of age- and sex-related brain differences, but the signal frequency and complexity, instead of amplitude, may hold their link.

View the article on the Wiley Online Library website.

DKI enhances the sensitivity and interpretability of age-related DTI patterns in the white matter of UK Biobank participants’, published in Neurobiology of Aging

Article Abstract
Studies of healthy brain aging have reported diffusivity patterns associated with white matter degeneration using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which assumes that diffusion measured at typical b-values (approximately 1000 s/mm2) is Gaussian. Diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) is an extension of DTI that measures non-Gaussian diffusion (kurtosis) to better capture microenvironmental differences by incorporating additional data at a higher b-value. In this study, using diffusion data (b-values of 1000 and 2000 s/mm2) from 700 UK Biobank participants aged 46-80, we investigate (1) the extent of novel information gained from adding diffusional kurtosis to diffusivity observations in aging, and (2) how conventional DTI metrics in aging compare with diffusivity metrics derived from DKI, which are corrected for kurtosis. We establish a pattern of lower kurtosis alongside higher diffusivity among older adults, with kurtosis generally being more sensitive to age than diffusivity. We also find discrepancies between diffusivity metrics derived from DTI and DKI, emphasizing the importance of accounting for non-Gaussian diffusion when interpreting age-related diffusivity patterns.

View the article on the Sciencedirect website.