Honors & Awards

  • Best Paper Award, Medical Image Analysis - MICCAI 2015 (October 2015)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) (2018)
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Universita Degli Studi Di Torino (2011)

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Closed-loop cavitation control for focused ultrasound-mediated blood-brain-barrier opening by long-circulating microbubbles. Physics in medicine and biology Cavusoglu, M., Zhang, J., Ielacqua, G. D., Pellegrini, G., Signorell, R. D., Papachristodoulou, A., Brambilla, D., Roth, P., Weller, M., Rudin, M., Martin, E., Leroux, J. C., Werner, B. 2018


    Focused ultrasound (FUS) exposure in the presence of microbubbles (MBs) has been successfully used in the delivery of various sizes of therapeutic molecules across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). While acoustic pressure is correlated with the BBB opening size, real-time control of BBB opening to avoid vascular and neural damage is still a challenge. This arises mainly from the variability of FUS-MB interactions due to the variations of animal-specific metabolic environment and specific experimental setup. In this study, we demonstrate a closed-loop cavitation control framework to induce BBB opening for delivering large therapeutic molecules without causing macro tissue damages. To this end, we performed in mice long-term (5 min) cavitation monitoring facilitated by using long-circulating MBs. Monitoring the long-term temporal kinetics of the MBs under varying level of FUS pressure allowed to identify in-situ, animal specific activity regimes forming a pressure-dependent activity bands. This enables to determine the boundaries of each activity band (i.e. steady oscillation, transition, inertial cavitation) independent from the physical and physiological dynamics of the experiment. However, such a calibration approach is time consuming and to speed up characterization of the in-situ, animal specific FUS-MB dynamics, we tested a novel method called "pre-calibration" that closely reproduces the results of long-term monitoring but with a much shorter duration. Once the activity bands are determined from the pre-calibration method, an operation band can be selected around the desired cavitation dose. To drive cavitation in the selected operation band, we developed an adaptive, closed-loop controller that updates the acoustic pressure between each sonication based on measured cavitation dose. Finally, we quantitatively assessed the safety of different activity bands and validated the proposed methods and controller framework. The proposed framework serves to optimize the FUS pressure instantly to maintain the targeted cavitation level while improving safety control.

    View details for PubMedID 30577029

  • Prospective Administration of Anti-NGF Treatment Effectively Suppresses Functional Connectivity Alterations Following Cancer-Induced Bone Pain in Mice. Pain Buehlmann, D., Ielacqua, G. D., Xandry, J., Rudin, M. 2018


    Cancer-induced bone pain is abundant among advanced stage cancer patients and arises from a primary tumor in the bone or skeletal metastasis of common cancer types such as breast, lung or prostate cancer. Recently, antibodies targeting nerve growth factor (NGF) have been shown to effectively relieve neuropathic and inflammatory pain states in mice and in humans. While efficacy has been shown in mice on a behavioral level, effectiveness in preventing pain-induced functional rearrangements in the central nervous system has not been shown. Therefore we assessed longitudinal whole-brain functional connectivity using resting-state fMRI in a mouse model of cancer-induced bone pain. We found functional connectivity between major hubs of ascending and descending pain pathways such as the periaqueductal gray, amygdala, thalamus as well as cortical somatosensory regions to be affected by a developing cancer pain state. These changes could be successfully prevented through prospective administration of a monoclonal anti-NGF antibody (mAb911). This indicates efficacy of anti-NGF treatment to prevent pain-induced adaptations in brain functional networks following persistent nociceptive input from cancer-induced bone pain. Additionally, it highlights the suitability of resting-state fMRI readouts as an indicator of treatment response on the basis of longitudinal functional network changes.

    View details for PubMedID 30161041

  • Dysfunctional Autism Risk Genes Cause Circuit-Specific Connectivity Deficits With Distinct Developmental Trajectories. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) Zerbi, V., Ielacqua, G. D., Markicevic, M., Haberl, M. G., Ellisman, M. H., A-Bhaskaran, A., Frick, A., Rudin, M., Wenderoth, N. 2018; 28 (7): 2495–2506


    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a set of complex neurodevelopmental disorders for which there is currently no targeted therapeutic approach. It is thought that alterations of genes regulating migration and synapse formation during development affect neural circuit formation and result in aberrant connectivity within distinct circuits that underlie abnormal behaviors. However, it is unknown whether deviant developmental trajectories are circuit-specific for a given autism risk-gene. We used MRI to probe changes in functional and structural connectivity from childhood to adulthood in Fragile-X (Fmr1-/y) and contactin-associated (CNTNAP2-/-) knockout mice. Young Fmr1-/y mice (30 days postnatal) presented with a robust hypoconnectivity phenotype in corticocortico and corticostriatal circuits in areas associated with sensory information processing, which was maintained until adulthood. Conversely, only small differences in hippocampal and striatal areas were present during early postnatal development in CNTNAP2-/- mice, while major connectivity deficits in prefrontal and limbic pathways developed between adolescence and adulthood. These findings are supported by viral tracing and electron micrograph approaches and define 2 clearly distinct connectivity endophenotypes within the autism spectrum. We conclude that the genetic background of ASD strongly influences which circuits are most affected, the nature of the phenotype, and the developmental time course of the associated changes.

    View details for PubMedID 29901787

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5998961

  • The role of beta-arrestin2 in shaping fMRI BOLD responses to dopaminergic stimulation. Psychopharmacology Sahlholm, K., Ielacqua, G. D., Xu, J., Jones, L. A., Schlegel, F., Mach, R. H., Rudin, M., Schroeter, A. 2017


    The dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) couples to inhibitory Gi/o proteins and is targeted by antipsychotic and antiparkinsonian drugs. Beta-arrestin2 binds to the intracellular regions of the agonist-occupied D2R to terminate G protein activation and promote internalization, but also to initiate downstream signaling cascades which have been implicated in psychosis. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has proven valuable for measuring dopamine receptor-mediated changes in neuronal activity, and might enable beta-arrestin2 function to be studied in vivo.The present study examined fMRI blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal changes elicited by a dopamine agonist in wild-type (WT) and beta-arrestin2 knockout (KO) mice, to investigate whether genetic deletion of beta-arrestin2 prolongs or otherwise modifies D2R-dependent responses.fMRI BOLD data were acquired on a 9.4 T system. During scans, animals received 0.2 mg/kg apomorphine, i.v. In a subset of experiments, animals were pretreated with 2 mg/kg of the D2R antagonist, eticlopride.Following apomorphine administration, BOLD signal decreases were observed in caudate/putamen of WT and KO animals. The time course of response decay in caudate/putamen was significantly slower in KO vs. WT animals. In cingulate cortex, an initial BOLD signal decrease was followed by a positive response component in WT but not in KO animals. Eticlopride pretreatment significantly reduced apomorphine-induced BOLD signal changes.The prolonged striatal response decay rates in KO animals might reflect impaired D2R desensitization, consistent with the known function of beta-arrestin2. Furthermore, the apomorphine-induced positive response component in cingulate cortex may depend on beta-arrestin2 signaling downstream of D2R.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00213-017-4609-6

    View details for PubMedID 28382543

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5486931

  • Quantitative assessment of microvasculopathy in arcA mice with USPIO-enhanced gradient echo MRI JOURNAL OF CEREBRAL BLOOD FLOW AND METABOLISM Klohs, J., Deistung, A., Ielacqua, G. D., Seuwen, A., Kindler, D., Schweser, F., Vaas, M., Kipar, A., Reichenbach, J. R., Rudin, M. 2016; 36 (9): 1614-1624


    Magnetic resonance imaging employing administration of iron oxide-based contrast agents is widely used to visualize cellular and molecular processes in vivo. In this study, we investigated the ability of [Formula: see text] and quantitative susceptibility mapping to quantitatively assess the accumulation of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) particles in the arcAβ mouse model of cerebral amyloidosis. Gradient-echo data of mouse brains were acquired at 9.4 T after injection of USPIO. Focal areas with increased magnetic susceptibility and [Formula: see text] values were discernible across several brain regions in 12-month-old arcAβ compared to 6-month-old arcAβ mice and to non-transgenic littermates, indicating accumulation of particles after USPIO injection. This was concomitant with higher [Formula: see text] and increased magnetic susceptibility differences relative to cerebrospinal fluid measured in USPIO-injected compared to non-USPIO-injected 12-month-old arcAβ mice. No differences in [Formula: see text] and magnetic susceptibility were detected in USPIO-injected compared to non-injected 12-month-old non-transgenic littermates. Histological analysis confirmed focal uptake of USPIO particles in perivascular macrophages adjacent to small caliber cerebral vessels with radii of 2-8 µm that showed no cerebral amyloid angiopathy. USPIO-enhanced [Formula: see text] and quantitative susceptibility mapping constitute quantitative tools to monitor such functional microvasculopathies.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0271678X15621500

    View details for Web of Science ID 000382996800012

    View details for PubMedID 26661253

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5010097

  • Reconstructing cerebrovascular networks under local physiological constraints by integer programming MEDICAL IMAGE ANALYSIS Rempfler, M., Schneider, M., Ielacqua, G. D., Xiao, X., Stock, S. R., Klohs, J., Szekely, G., Andres, B., Menze, B. H. 2015; 25 (1): 86-94


    We introduce a probabilistic approach to vessel network extraction that enforces physiological constraints on the vessel structure. The method accounts for both image evidence and geometric relationships between vessels by solving an integer program, which is shown to yield the maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimate to a probabilistic model. Starting from an overconnected network, it is pruning vessel stumps and spurious connections by evaluating the local geometry and the global connectivity of the graph. We utilize a high-resolution micro computed tomography (μCT) dataset of a cerebrovascular corrosion cast to obtain a reference network and learn the prior distributions of our probabilistic model and we perform experiments on in-vivo magnetic resonance microangiography (μMRA) images of mouse brains. We finally discuss properties of the networks obtained under different tracking and pruning approaches.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.media.2015.03.008

    View details for Web of Science ID 000360864700009

    View details for PubMedID 25977158

  • Magnetic Resonance Q Mapping Reveals a Decrease in Microvessel Density in the arcAß Mouse Model of Cerebral Amyloidosis. Frontiers in aging neuroscience Ielacqua, G. D., Schlegel, F., Füchtemeier, M., Xandry, J., Rudin, M., Klohs, J. 2015; 7: 241-?


    Alterations in density and morphology of the cerebral microvasculature have been reported to occur in Alzheimer's disease patients and animal models of the disease. In this study we compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for their utility to detect age-dependent changes of the cerebral vasculature in the arcAβ mouse model of cerebral amyloidosis. Dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC)-MRI was performed by tracking the passage of a superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle in the brain with dynamic gradient echo planar imaging (EPI). From this measurements relative cerebral blood volume [rCBV(DSC)] and relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF) were estimated. For the same animal maps of the relaxation shift index Q were computed from high resolution gradient echo and spin echo data that were acquired before and after superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticle injection. Q-values were used to derive estimates of microvessel density. The change in the relaxation rates [Formula: see text] obtained from pre- and post-contrast gradient echo data was used for the alternative determination of rCBV [rCBV([Formula: see text])]. Linear mixed effects modeling found no significant association between rCBV(DSC), rCBV([Formula: see text]), rCBF, and Q with genotype in 13-month old mice [compared to age-matched non-transgenic littermates (NTLs)] for any of the evaluated brain regions. In 24-month old mice there was a significant association for rCBV(DSC) with genotype in the cerebral cortex, and for rCBV([Formula: see text]) in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. For rCBF there was a significant association in the cerebellum but not in other brain regions. Q-values in the olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, striatum, hippocampus, and cerebellum in 24-month old mice were significantly associated with genotype. In those regions Q-values were reduced between 11 and 26% in arcAβ mice compared to age-matched NTLs. Vessel staining with CD31 immunohistochemistry confirmed a reduction of microvessel density in the old arcAβ mice. We further demonstrated a region-specific association between parenchymal and vascular deposition of β-amyloid and decreased vascular density, without a correlation with the amount of Aβ deposition. We found that Q mapping was more suitable than the hemodynamic read-outs to detect amyloid-related degeneration of the cerebral microvasculature.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnagi.2015.00241

    View details for PubMedID 26834622

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4717293

  • Extracting vascular networks under physiological constraints via integer programming. Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention : MICCAI ... International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention Rempfler, M., Schneider, M., Ielacqua, G. D., Xiao, X., Stock, S. R., Klohs, J., Székely, G., Andres, B., Menze, B. H. 2014; 17: 505-512


    We introduce an integer programming-based approach to vessel network extraction that enforces global physiological constraints on the vessel structure and learn this prior from a high-resolution reference network. The method accounts for both image evidence and geometric relationships between vessels by formulating and solving an integer programming problem. Starting from an over-connected network, it is pruning vessel stumps and spurious connections by evaluating bifurcation angle and connectivity of the graph. We utilize a high-resolution micro computed tomography (μCT) dataset of a cerebrovascular corrosion cast to obtain a reference network, perform experiments on micro magnetic resonance angiography (μMRA) images of mouse brains and discuss properties of the networks obtained under different tracking and pruning approaches.

    View details for PubMedID 25485417