MR Diffusion Histology and Micro-Tractography Reveal Mesoscale Features of the Human Cerebellum
After 140 years from the discovery of Golgi's black reaction, the study of connectivity of the cerebellum remains a fascinating yet challenging task. Current histological techniques provide powerful methods for unravelling local axonal architecture, but the relatively low volume of data that can be acquired in a reasonable amount of time limits their application to small samples. State-of-the-art in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods, such as diffusion tractography techniques, can
... eal trajectories of the major white matter pathways, but their correspondence with underlying anatomy is yet to be established. Hence, a significant gap exists between these two approaches as neither of them can adequately describe the three-dimensional complexity of fibre architecture at the level of the mesoscale (from a few millimetres to micrometres). In this study, we report the application of MR diffusion histology and micro-tractography methods to reveal the combined cytoarchitectural organisation and connectivity of the human cerebellum at a resolution of 100-μm (2 nl/voxel volume). Results show that the diffusion characteristics for each layer of the cerebellar cortex correctly reflect the known cellular composition and its architectural pattern. Micro-tractography also reveals details of the axonal connectivity of individual cerebellar folia and the intracortical organisation of the different cerebellar layers. The direct correspondence between MR diffusion histology and micro-tractography with immunohistochemistry indicates that these approaches have the potential to complement traditional histology techniques by providing a non-destructive, quantitative and three-dimensional description of the microstructural organisation of the healthy and pathological tissue.