Aberrant claustrum structure in preterm-born neonates: an MRI study

Antonia Neubauer, Aurore Menegaux, Jil Wendt, Hongwei Bran Li, Benita Schmitz-Koep, Tobias Ruzok, Melissa Thalhammer, David Schinz, Peter Bartmann, Dieter Wolke, Josef Priller, Claus Zimmer, Daniel Rueckert, Dennis M Hedderich, Christian Sorg

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The human claustrum is a gray matter structure in the white matter between insula and striatum. Previous analysis found altered claustrum microstructure in very preterm-born adults associated with lower cognitive performance. As the claustrum development is related to hypoxia-ischemia sensitive transient cell populations being at-risk in premature birth, we hypothesized that claustrum structure is already altered in preterm-born neonates. We studied anatomical and diffusion-weighted MRIs of 83 preterm- and 83 term-born neonates at term-equivalent age. Additionally, claustrum development was analyzed both in a spectrum of 377 term-born neonates and longitudinally in 53 preterm-born subjects. Data was provided by the developing Human Connectome Project. Claustrum development showed increasing volume, increasing fractional anisotropy (FA), and decreasing mean diffusivity (MD) around term both across term- and preterm-born neonates. Relative to term-born ones, preterm-born neonates had (i) increased absolute and relative claustrum volumes, both indicating increased cellular and/or extracellular matter and being in contrast to other subcortical gray matter regions of decreased volumes such as thalamus; (ii) lower claustrum FA and higher claustrum MD, pointing at increased extracellular matrix and impaired axonal integrity; and (iii) aberrant covariance between claustrum FA and MD, respectively, and that of distributed gray matter regions, hinting at relatively altered claustrum microstructure. Results together demonstrate specifically aberrant claustrum structure in preterm-born neonates, suggesting altered claustrum development in prematurity, potentially relevant for later cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103286
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Early online date8 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2022


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