Establishing a 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging Method for Assessing Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury in Rats

Dmitry Frank, Benjamin F. Gruenbaum, Vladislav Zvenigorodsky, Ilan Shelef, Anna Oleshko, Frederic Matalon, Beatris Tsafarov, Alexander Zlotnik, Amit Frenkel, Matthew Boyko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) significantly contributes to death and disability worldwide. However, treatment options remain limited. Here, we focus on a specific pathology of TBI, diffuse axonal brain injury (DABI), which describes the process of the tearing of nerve fibers in the brain after blunt injury. Most protocols to study DABI do not incorporate a specific model for that type of pathology, limiting their ability to identify mechanisms and comorbidities of DABI. In this study, we developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol for DABI in a rat model using a 3-T clinical scanner. We compared the neuroimaging outcomes with histologic and neurologic assessments. In a sample size of 10 rats in the sham group and 10 rats in the DABI group, we established neurological severity scores before the intervention and at 48 h following DABI induction. After the neurological evaluation after DABI, all rats underwent MRI scans and were subsequently euthanized for histological evaluation. As expected, the neurological assessment showed a high sensitivity for DABI lesions indicated using the β-APP marker. Surprisingly, however, we found that the MRI method had greater sensitivity in assessing DABI lesions compared to histological methods. Out of the five MRI parameters with pathological changes in the DABI model, we found significant changes compared to sham rats in three parameters, and, as shown using comparative tests with other models, MRI was the most sensitive parameter, being even more sensitive than histology. We anticipate that this DABI protocol will have a significant impact on future TBI and DABI studies, advancing research on treatments specifically targeted towards improving patient quality of life and long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4234
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • 3-Tesla
  • diffuse axonal brain injury
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • rats
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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