Long-term in vivo imaging of viscoelastic properties of the mouse brain after controlled cortical impact

Thomas Boulet, Matthew L. Kelso, Shadi F. Othman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) presents a variety of causes and symptoms, thus making the development of reliable diagnostic methods and therapeutic treatments challenging. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a technique that allows for a noninvasive assessment of the mechanical properties of soft biological tissue, such as tissue stiffness, storage modulus, and loss modulus. Importantly, by quantifying the changes in the stiffness of tissue that is often associated with disease, MRE is able to detect tissue pathologies at early stages. Recent improvements in instrumentation have allowed for the investigation of small samples with microscopic resolution (μMRE). We hypothesize that μMRE can sensitively detect variations in micromechanical properties in the brain caused by the compressive and shearing forces sustained during TBI. To test this hypothesis, we randomized 13 C57BL mice to receive a controlled cortical impact at a 0.5 mm or 0.75 mm depth, with both sham and naïve mice as controls. Our objective was to propagate mechanical shear waves throughout the brain for in vivo TBI μMRE imaging. The mechanical properties of the injured brain tissue were determined at days 0, 1, 7, and 28 post-injury. For both groups, we observed a significant drop in the stiffness of the impacted region immediately following the injury; the 0.75 mm animals experienced increased tissue softness that lasted longer than that for the 0.5 mm group. Although the shear stiffness, storage modulus, and loss modulus parameters all followed the same trend, the tissue stiffness yielded the most statistically significant results. Overall, this article introduces a transformative technique for mechanically mapping the brain and detecting brain diseases and injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1520
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Inverse problem
  • MRE
  • MRI
  • TBI
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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