Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging-derived free water detects neurodegenerative pattern induced by interferon-γ

Marcelo Febo, Pablo D. Perez, Carolina Ceballos-Diaz, Luis M. Colon-Perez, Huadong Zeng, Edward Ofori, Todd E. Golde, David E. Vaillancourt, Paramita Chakrabarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Imaging biomarkers for immune activation may be valuable for early-stage detection, therapeutic testing, and research on neurodegenerative conditions. In the present study, we determined whether diffusion magnetic resonance imaging-derived free water signal is a sensitive marker for neuroinflammatory effects of interferon-gamma (Ifn-γ). Neonatal wild-type mice were injected in the cerebral ventricles with recombinant adeno-associated viruses expressing the inflammatory cytokine Ifn-γ. Groups of mice expressing Ifn-γ and age-matched controls were imaged at 1, 5 and 8 months. Mice deficient in Ifngr1−/− and Stat1−/− were scanned at 5 months as controls for the signaling cascades activated by Ifn-γ. The results indicate that Ifn-γ affected fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and free water (FW) in white matter structures, midline cortical areas, and medial thalamic areas. In these structures, FA and MD decreased progressively from 1 to 8 months of age, while FW increased significantly. The observed reductions in FA and MD and increased FW with elevated brain Ifn-γ was not observed in Ifngr1−/− or Stat1−/− mice. These results suggest that the observed microstructure changes involve the Ifn-gr1 and Stat1 signaling. Interestingly, increases in FW were observed in midbrain of Ifngr1−/− mice, which suggests alternative Ifn-γ signaling in midbrain. Although initial evidence is offered in relation to the sensitivity of the FW signal to neurodegenerative and/or inflammatory patterns specific to Ifn-γ, further research is needed to determine applicability and specificity across animal models of neuroinflammatory and degenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-439
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Free water
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon gamma
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


Dive into the research topics of 'Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging-derived free water detects neurodegenerative pattern induced by interferon-γ'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this