Background Very low birth weight (VLBW; birth weight <1500 g) survivors have been shown to have quantitative changes in the thalamus, which may influence fibre networks and the development of associated cortical regions. We have reported that VLBW adolescents had smaller volumes of the thalamus relative to total brain volume, compared with controls.
Objective To relate changes in thalamic volume and fractional anisotropy (FA) values to regional cerebral cortical thickness in VLBW adolescents.
Design and Methods 49 VLBW and 57 control adolescents were examined at the age of 14–15 years with an automated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for morphometric analyses of brain volumes and regional cortical thickness differences. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed in 34 VLBW adolescents. Correlations between thalamic volume, FA values in thalamus and areas with cortical thinning were performed for the VLBW adolescents.
Results VLBW adolescents had several cortical areas with either thinning (yellow) or thickening (blue) compared with controls. Thalamic volume reduction was correlated to cortical thinning in the left frontal and right temporal (white) (fig 1), parietal and parahippocampal cortices. Low FA values in the left thalamus (fig 2) were related to thinning of the left premotor area and left parietal cortex.
Conclusions These findings suggest an interaction between the development of specific cortical areas and thalamic volume and fibre changes during development in VLBW adolescents.