METHODS: Anatomical MRI and structural DTI were performed cross-sectionally on 26 normal children (newborn to 48 months old), using 1.5-T MRI. The automated processing pipeline was implemented to convert diffusion-weighted images into the NIfTI format. DTI-TK software was used to register the processed images to the ICBM DTI-81 atlas, while AFNI software was used for automated atlas-based volumes of interest (VOIs) and statistical value extraction.
RESULTS: DTI exhibited consistent grey-white matter contrast. Triphasic temporal variation of the FA and MD values was noted, with FA increasing and MD decreasing rapidly early in the first 12 months. The second phase lasted 12-24 months during which the rate of FA and MD changes was reduced. After 24 months, the FA and MD values plateaued.
CONCLUSION: DTI is a superior technique to conventional MR imaging in depicting WM maturation. The use of the automated processing pipeline provides a reliable environment for quantitative analysis of high-throughput DTI data.
KEY POINTS: Diffusion tensor imaging outperforms conventional MRI in depicting white matter maturation. • DTI will become an important clinical tool for diagnosing paediatric neurological diseases. • DTI appears especially helpful for developmental abnormalities, tumours and white matter disease. • An automated processing pipeline assists quantitative analysis of high throughput DTI data.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pro-arrhythmic properties in electrocardiographic and intracellular recordings were compared in young and aged, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1β knockout (Pgc-1β-/-) and wild type (WT), Langendorff-perfused murine hearts, during regular and programmed stimulation (PES), comparing results by two-way ANOVA.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Young and aged Pgc-1β-/- showed higher frequencies and durations of arrhythmic episodes through wider PES coupling-interval ranges than WT. Both young and old, regularly-paced, Pgc-1β-/- hearts showed slowed maximum action potential (AP) upstrokes, (dV/dt)max (∼157 vs. 120-130 V s-1), prolonged AP latencies (by ∼20%) and shortened refractory periods (∼58 vs. 51 ms) but similar AP durations (∼50 ms at 90% recovery) compared to WT. However, Pgc-1β-/- genotype and age each influenced extrasystolic AP latencies during PES. Young and aged WT ventricles displayed distinct, but Pgc-1β-/- ventricles displayed similar dependences of AP latency upon (dV/dt)max resembling aged WT. They also independently increased myocardial fibrosis. AP wavelengths combining activation and recovery terms paralleled contrasting arrhythmic incidences in Pgc-1β-/- and WT hearts. Mitochondrial dysfunction thus causes pro-arrhythmic Pgc-1β-/- phenotypes by altering AP conduction through reducing (dV/dt)max and causing age-dependent fibrotic change.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We tested a hypothesis implicating Na+ current alterations as a mechanism underlying these electrophysiological phenotypes. We applied loose patch-clamp techniques to intact young and aged, WT and Pgc-1β-/-, atrial cardiomyocyte preparations preserving their in vivo extracellular and intracellular conditions.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Depolarising steps activated typical voltage-dependent activating and inactivating inward (Na+) currents whose amplitude increased or decreased with the amplitudes of the activating, or preceding inactivating, steps. Maximum values of peak Na+ current were independently influenced by genotype but not age or interacting effects of genotype and age on two-way ANOVA. Neither genotype, nor age, whether independently or interactively, influenced voltages at half-maximal current, or steepness factors, for current activation and inactivation, or time constants for recovery from inactivation following repolarisation. In contrast, delayed outward (K+) currents showed similar activation and rectification properties through all experimental groups. These findings directly demonstrate and implicate reduced Na+ in contrast to unchanged K+ current, as a mechanism for slowed conduction causing atrial arrhythmogenicity in Pgc-1β-/- hearts.