The aim of this study is exploring the value of diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI) in the diagnosis of acute carbon monoxide poisoning encephalopathy in vivo rats. Forty healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats, were divided into a control group and CO poisoning model group. DKI during 7.0 T MR were performed in the globus pallidus, hippocampus and parietal cortex in the rats. During acute CO poisoning, compared with controls, Mean kurtosis values (MK) and Mean diffusivity (MD) values were significantly decreased both in the hippocampus and parietal cortex, however, in the globus pallidus were significantly increased.The pathological findings showed emerged granular cytoplasmic changes, thickening of chromatin of the neurons, and local lymphocytic infiltration. However, the condition in the hippocampus and parietal cortex was significantly milder than in the globus pallidus region in the first day or 3 days later. Both Immunohistochemical analysis of the heme oxygenase-1 of rats and MK values increased only in globus pallidus with a statistical difference between the CO poisoning group and the normal group both in the day 1 and day 3. DKI can possess sufficient sensitivity for tracking pathophysiological changes associated with carbon monoxide intoxication. The higher MK values in acute stage of carbon monoxide intoxication might indicate poor prognosis in the evolution of the condition.
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