MR-determined hippocampal asymmetry in full-term and preterm neonates.
Neuroimaging and Neuroinformatics, Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hippocampi are asymmetrical in children and adults, where the right hippocampus is larger. To date, no literature has confirmed that hippocampal asymmetry is evident at birth. Furthermore, gender differences have been observed in normal hippocampal asymmetry, but this has not been examined in neonates. Stress, injury, and lower IQ have been associated with alterations to hippocampal asymmetry. These same factors often accompany preterm birth. Therefore, prematurity is possibly associated with altered hippocampal asymmetry. There were three aims of this study: First, we assessed whether hippocampi were asymmetrical at birth, second whether there was a gender effect on hippocampal asymmetry, and third whether the stress of preterm birth altered hippocampal asymmetry. This study utilized volumetric magnetic resonance imaging to compare left and right hippocampal volumes in 32 full-term and 184 preterm infants at term. Full-term infants demonstrated rightward hippocampal asymmetry, as did preterm infants. In the case of preterm infants, hippocampal asymmetry was proportional to total hemispheric asymmetry. This study is the first to demonstrate that the normal pattern of hippocampal asymmetry is present this early in development. We did not find gender differences in hippocampal asymmetry at term. Preterm infants tended to have less asymmetrical hippocampi than full-term infants, a difference which became significant after correcting for hemispheric brain tissue volumes. This study may suggest that hippocampal asymmetry develops in utero and is maintained into adulthood in infants with a normal neurological course.
PMID: 18767066 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID: PMC2631622 [Available on 2010/01/01]