Weak functional connectivity in the human fetal brain prior to preterm birth
Moriah E. Thomason, Dustin Scheinost, Janessa H. Manning, Lauren E. Grove, Jasmine Hect, Narcis Marshall, Edgar Hernandez-Andrade, Susan Berman, Athina Pappas, Lami Yeo, Sonia S. Hassan, R. Todd Constable, Laura R. Ment & Roberto Romero
Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 39286 (2017)
Disease model Neural patterning
Received: 08 June 2016 Accepted: 21 November 2016 Published online: 09 January 2017
It has been suggested that neurological problems more frequent in those born preterm are expressed prior to birth, but owing to technical limitations, this has been difficult to test in humans. We applied novel fetal resting-state functional MRI to measure brain function in 32 human fetuses in utero and found that systems-level neural functional connectivity was diminished in fetuses that would subsequently be born preterm. Neural connectivity was reduced in a left-hemisphere pre-language region, and the degree to which connectivity of this left language region extended to right-hemisphere homologs was positively associated with the time elapsed between fMRI assessment and delivery. These results provide the first evidence that altered functional connectivity in the preterm brain is identifiable before birth. They suggest that neurodevelopmental disorders associated with preterm birth may result from neurological insults that begin in utero.
How to cite this article: Thomason, M. E. et al. Weak functional connectivity in the human fetal brain prior to preterm birth. Sci. Rep. 7, 39286; doi: 10.1038/srep39286 (2017).
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This project was supported by awards to M.E.T. from the National Institutes of Health, MH110793 and ES026022, and by a NARSAD Young Investigator Award. This project was also supported in part by NIH contract HHSN 275201300006 C. The authors thank Pavan Jella, Saige Rutherford, Sophia Neuenfeldt, and Ki-Jana Malone for their assistance in acquiring the scan data; Farrah Elrahal, Jamie Pierce, Jordan Boeve, Gillian Grace Spitzley, Sydney Rooks, and Joi Webb for their assistance in participant recruitment, screening, and conducting behavioral testing; and Tarek Bazzi, Alison Li, Kassem Soufan, and Baldish Oberoi for their help with data processing. The authors also thank participant families who generously shared their time.
Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Moriah E. Thomason, Janessa H. Manning, Lauren E. Grove, Jasmine Hect & Narcis Marshall
Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Moriah E. Thomason & Athina Pappas
Perinatology Research Branch, NICHD/NIH/DHHS, Detroit, Michigan, and Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Moriah E. Thomason, Janessa H. Manning, Lauren E. Grove, Narcis Marshall, Edgar Hernandez-Andrade, Athina Pappas, Lami Yeo, Sonia S. Hassan & Roberto Romero
Institute for Social Research, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104, USA
Moriah E. Thomason
Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
Dustin Scheinost & R. Todd Constable
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Edgar Hernandez-Andrade, Susan Berman, Lami Yeo & Sonia S. Hassan
Department of Neurosurgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
R. Todd Constable
Department of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
Laura R. Ment
Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
Laura R. Ment
Center for Molecular Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104, USA
Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48825, USA.
M.E.T., D.S., R.R., L.R.M., S.S.H., and L.Y. designed research; A.P., S.B., and E.H.A. performed research; M.E.T., D.S., J.H.M., L.E.G., J.H., N.M., and T.C. analyzed data; and M.E.T., D.S., R.R., L.Y. and L.M. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Correspondence to Moriah E. Thomason.