Microstructural characterization of the pia arachnoid
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world, and is often identified by the presence of subdural and/or subarachnoid hemorrhages that develop from ruptured cortical vessels during brain-skull displacement. The pia-arachnoid complex (PAC), also known as the leptomeninges, is the major mechanical connection between the brain and skull, and influences cortical vessel deformation and rupture following brain trauma. This complex consists of cerebrospinal fluid, arachnoid trabeculae, and subarachnoid vasculature sandwiched between the arachnoid and pia mater membranes. Remarkably, studies of the tissues in the PAC are largely qualitative and do not provide numerical metrics of population density and variability of the arachnoid trabeculae and subarachnoid vasculature. In this study, microstructural imaging was performed on the PAC to numerically quantify these metrics.
Five porcine brains were perfusion-fixed and imaged in situ using optical coherence tomography with micrometer resolution. Imageprocessing was performed to estimate the volume fraction (VF) of the arachnoid trabeculae and subarachnoid vasculature in 12 regions of the brain. High regional variability was found within each brain, with individual brains exhibiting up to a 38.4 percentage-point range in VF. Regions with high VF were often next to regions with low VF. This suggests that some areas of the brain may be mechanically weaker, increasing their susceptibility to hemorrhage during TBI events. This study provides the first quantifiable data of arachnoid trabeculae and subarachnoid vasculature distribution within the PAC and will be valuable to understanding brain biomechanics during head trauma.
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