Quantitative histological validation of diffusion MRI fiber orientation distributions in the rat brain.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008595
Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is widely used to measure microstructural features of brain white matter, but commonly used dMRI measures have limited capacity to resolve the orientation structure of complex fiber architectures. While several promising new approaches have been proposed, direct quantitative validation of these methods against relevant histological architectures remains missing. In this study, we quantitatively compare neuronal fiber orientation distributions (FODs) derived from ex vivo dMRI data against histological measurements of rat brain myeloarchitecture using manual recordings of individual myelin stained fiber orientations. We show that accurate FOD estimates can be obtained from dMRI data, even in regions with complex architectures of crossing fibers with an intrinsic orientation error of approximately 5-6 degrees in these regions. The reported findings have implications for both clinical and research studies based on dMRI FOD measures, and provide an important biological benchmark for improved FOD reconstruction and fiber tracking methods.