Modified structural network backbone in the contralesional hemisphere chronically after stroke in rat brain

Michel Rt Sinke, Willem M Otte, Maurits P A Van Meer, A van der Toorn, Rick M Dijkhuizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Functional outcome after stroke depends on the local site of ischemic injury and on remote effects within connected networks, frequently extending into the contralesional hemisphere. However, the pattern of large-scale contralesional network remodeling remains largely unresolved. In this study, we applied diffusion-based tractography and graph-based network analysis to measure structural connectivity in the contralesional hemisphere chronically after experimental stroke in rats. We used the minimum spanning tree method, which accounts for variations in network density, for unbiased characterization of network backbones that form the strongest connections in a network. Ultrahigh-resolution diffusion MRI scans of eight post-mortem rat brains collected 70 days after right-sided stroke were compared against scans from 10 control brains. Structural network backbones of the left (contralesional) hemisphere, derived from 42 atlas-based anatomical regions, were found to be relatively stable across stroke and control animals. However, several sensorimotor regions showed increased connection strength after stroke. Sensorimotor function correlated with specific contralesional sensorimotor network backbone measures of global integration and efficiency. Our findings point toward post-stroke adaptive reorganization of the contralesional sensorimotor network with recruitment of distinct sensorimotor regions, possibly through strengthening of connections, which may contribute to functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1642-1653
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Animal models
  • brain recovery
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • stroke


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