Anatomical and diffusion MRI brain atlases of the fetal rhesus macaque brain at 85, 110 and 135 days gestation

Zheng Liu, Xiaojie Wang, Natali Newman, Kathleen A. Grant, Colin Studholme, Christopher D. Kroenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent advances in image reconstruction techniques have enabled high resolution MRI studies of fetal brain development in human subjects. Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) are valuable animal models for use in studies of fetal brain development due to the similarities between this species and humans in brain development and anatomy. There is a need to develop fetal brain templates for the rhesus macaque to facilitate the characterization of the normal brain growth trajectory and departures from this trajectory in rhesus models of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here we have developed unbiased population-based anatomical T2-weighted, fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) templates for fetal brain from MR images scanned at 3 time points over the second and third trimesters of the 168 day gestational term. Specifically, atlas images are constructed for brains at gestational ages of 85 days (G85, N = 18, 9 females), 110 days (G110, N = 10, 7 females) and 135 days (G135, N = 16, 7 females). We utilized this atlas to perform segmentation of fetal brain MR images and fetal brain volumetric and microstructure analysis. The T2-weighted template images facilitated characterization of the growth within six fetal brain regions. The template images of diffusion tensor indices provided information related to the maturation of white matter tracts. These growth trajectories are referenced to human studies of fetal brain development. Similarities in the temporal and regional patterns of brain growth over the corresponding periods of central nervous system development are identified between the two species. Atlas images are available online as a reference for registration, reconstruction, segmentation, and for longitudinal analysis of early fetal brain growth over this unique time window.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116310
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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