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Scalable mapping of myelin and neuron density in the human brain with micrometer resolution

By Hui Wang, Shuaibin Chang, Divya Varadarajan, Jiarui Yang, Ichun Anderson Chen, Sreekanth Kura, Caroline Magnain, Jean C Augustinack, Bruce Fischl, Douglas N. Greve, David A. Boas

Posted 14 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.13.444005

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an emerging 3D imaging technique that allows quantification of intrinsic optical properties such as scattering coefficient and back-scattering coefficient, and has proved useful in distinguishing delicate microstructures in the human brain. The origins of scattering in brain tissues are contributed by the myelin content, neuron size and density primarily; however, no quantitative relationships between them have been reported, which hampers the use of OCT in fundamental studies of architectonic areas in the human brain and the pathological evaluations of diseases. To date, histology remains the golden standard, which is prone to errors and can only work on a small number of subjects. Here, we demonstrate a novel method that uses serial sectioning OCT to quantitatively measure myelin content and neuron density in the human brain. We found that the scattering coefficient possesses a strong linear relationship with the myelin content across different regions of the human brain, while the neuron density serves as a secondary contribution that only slightly modulates the overall tissue scattering.

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