This study introduces an MRI approach to map diffusion of water in vivo with high resolution under challenging conditions; the approach's potential is then used in diffusivity characterizations of embryos and fetoplacental units in pregnant mice, as well as of newborn mice in their initial postnatal period. The method relies on performing self-referenced spatiotemporal encoded MRI acquisitions, which can achieve the motional and susceptibility immunities needed to target challenging regions such as a mouse's abdominal cavity in a single shot. When suitably combined with zooming-in and novel interleaving procedures, these scans can overcome the inhomogeneity and sensitivity challenges arising upon targeting approximate to 100 mu m in-plane resolutions, and thereby enable longitudinal development studies of abdominal organs that have hitherto eluded in vivo diffusion-weighted imaging. This is employed here to follow processes related to embryonic implantation and placentation, including the final stages of mouse gastrulation, the development of white matter in fetal brains, the maturation of fetal spines, and the evolution of the different layers making up mouse hemochorial placentas. The protocol's ability to extract diffusivity information in challenging regions as a function of embryonic mouse development is thus demonstrated, and its usefulness as a tool for visualizing pregnancy-related developmental changes in rodents is discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging