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  • Health surveillance of the brain and psychological state program with MRI (the Brain-MRI project)
  • Health surveillance of the brain and psychological state program with MRI (the Brain-MRI project)

    mri_01ToMMo has been collecting magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam data from around 12,000 participants. This is a part of the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project Community-Based Cohort Study, and Birth and Three-Generation Cohort Study . We are investigating how genetic factors and environmental factors such as daily habits have an influence on the brain, its cognitive functions, and psychological conditions, in order to maintain a healthy brain and good cognitive functions throughout a whole lifetime.

    -A large-scale database of anonymous brain images established.
    -We incorporate the data of MR images as biomarkers of cognitive functions and vital functions into cohort studies.

    Since October 2019, we have been collecting the second MRI exam data from the same participants. The data will be connected to genome information and other data from cohort studies, so it will be more rich and valuable research resource, and comparable to any differences between passage or disease.

    MRI exam
    Number of examined people ・MRI Images (3D T1-Weighted Imaging, MR Angiography, etc) ca. 12,000
    ・3D Imaging of Thighs - Muscle Volume ca. 4,000
    Target participant Men and women age 20 or older, excluding pregnant women and women suspected of being pregnant, or those who do not have a doctor’s certificate for MRI safety although with metallic implants
    Recruitment method ・Postal mailing to participants who are joined TMM cohort studies
    ・Announcement on website
    Requested cooperation ・Filling out the additional questionnaire
    ・MR imaging
    ・Cognitive tests
    ・Interview by psychologists
    ・Cooperating with follow-up studies
    Period ・First phase: July 2014 to October 2019
    ・Second phase: Since October 2019
    Endpoint Brain Gray and White Matter Volume, White Matter Integrity, White Matter Lesion, Brain Perfusion, Brain Vessel Structure, Femoral Muscle Volume


    Through analyzing the MR images (brain) of participants, combined with analyses of their lifestyles, cognitive function, mental health status, and genome information, we are studying the effects that genetic and environmental factors have on the brain and cognitive function, as well as the mechanisms of developing posttraumatic stress reaction (PTSR), depression, and dementia.
    By this program, a large-scale database of anonymous brain images is established. Furthermore, using this database, we aim to establish methods for early detection and prevention of several psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases highly associated with brain structure and function changes, such as depression, PTSR, and dementia.

    Exam details:
    -MRI exam for mainly brain (we also have some thigh data)
    - Neuropsychological test and questionnaire on psychological state
    -Assessment of psychiatric symptoms

    MRI scanners:
    We scan the brain of participants with a variety of imaging protocols, using two dedicated 3.0-Tesla MRI machines.


    [An axial slice from four different acquisition protocols. From left to right: Structural image (T1), perfusion map, FLAIR image, diffusion tensor image]


    [MR angiography, imaging the brain vasculature]


    This combination of images enables us to assess the brain structure through quantitative morphometrics, including volume and thickness of the neocortex and volume of sub-cortical structures, as well as qualitative appreciation of white matter lesions in an aging brain, and brain vasculature.


    [The hippocampus, a structure heavily involved in memory, depicted here in 3D rendering, is automatically segmented from the MR images of participants]


    [Morphometry of the cortical surface]


    We have also acquired body MR images using a multi-Dixon sequences from around 4,000 participants, we assess body structure, such as the femoral muscle physical volume, whose decline may be an early marker of later cognitive decline.


    [Four MR body slabs. They show different contrasts, and show different subjects.]


    [The segmented muscle, depicted as a 3D rendering]


    [An example of femoral muscle/fat segmentation, two different slices of the same subject]


    [3D rendering of the cortical gray matter]


    [Tractography of the white matter structure]


    Return of results:
    Using the images for research on cognitive and behavioral assessment, we will provide data, such as brain age from the density of each area in the brain and femoral muscle mass, to MRI scan participants.
    And sometimes, we incidentally find abnormal findings from brain images such as brain atrophy, cerebral infarction, brain tumors, and so on. We return these results with recommendation for medical consultation after the review of images by experts.