Quantitative MRI Analyses of Regional Brain Growth in Living Fetuses with Down Syndrome.
Down syndrome (DS) is the most common liveborn autosomal chromosomal anomaly and is a major cause of developmental disability. Atypical brain development and the resulting intellectual disability originate during the fetal period. Perinatal interventions to correct such aberrant development are on the horizon in preclinical studies. However, we lack tools to sensitively measure aberrant structural brain development in living human fetuses with DS. In this study, we aimed to develop safe and precise neuroimaging measures to monitor fetal brain development in DS. We measured growth patterns of regional brain structures in 10 fetal brains with DS (29.1 ± 4.2, weeks of gestation, mean ± SD, range 21.7~35.1) and 12 control fetuses (25.2 ± 5.0, range 18.6~33.3) using regional volumetric analysis of fetal brain MRI. All cases with DS had confirmed karyotypes. We performed non-linear regression models to compare fitted regional growth curves between DS and controls. We found decreased growth trajectories of the cortical plate (P = 0.033), the subcortical parenchyma (P = 0.010), and the cerebellar hemispheres (P < 0.0001) in DS compared to controls. This study provides proof of principle that regional volumetric analysis of fetal brain MRI facilitates successful evaluation of brain development in living fetuses with DS.
School of Medicine
Obstetrics and Gynecology