Background: Although changes in diffusion characteristics of the brain parenchyma in neurological disorders are widely studied and used in clinical practice, the change in diffusivity in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) system is rarely reported. In this study, free water diffusion in the subarachnoid cisterns and ventricles of the rat brain was examined using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the effects of neurological disorders on diffusivity in CSF system were investigated. Methods: Diffusion MRI and T2-weighted images were obtained in the intact rats, 24 h after ischemic stroke, and 50 days after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). We conducted the assessment of diffusivity in the rat brain in the subarachnoid cisterns around the midbrain, as well as the lateral ventricles. One-way ANOVA and Kruskal–Wallis test were used to evaluate the change in mean diffusivity (MD) and MD histogram, respectively, in CSF system following different neurological disease. Results: A significant decrease in the mean MD value of the subarachnoid cisterns was observed in the stroke rats compared with the intact and mTBI rats (p < 0.005). In addition, the skewness (p < 0.002), maximum MD (p < 0.002), and MD percentiles (p < 0.002) in the stroke rats differed significantly from those in the intact and mTBI rats. By contrast, no difference was observed in the mean MD value of the lateral ventricles among three groups of rats. We proposed that the assessment of the subarachnoid cisterns, rather than the lateral ventricles, in the rat brain would be useful in providing diffusion information in the CSF system. Conclusions: Alterations in MD parameters of the subarachnoid cisterns after stroke provide evidence that brain injury may alter the characteristics of free water diffusion not only in the brain parenchyma but also in the CSF system.
- Lateral ventricles
- Mean diffusivity