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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32342. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032342. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

In vivo diagnostic imaging using micro-CT: sequential and comparative evaluation of rodent models for hepatic/brain ischemia and stroke.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Kinki University School of Medicine, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka, Japan.



There is an increasing need for animal disease models for pathophysiological research and efficient drug screening. However, one of the technical barriers to the effective use of the models is the difficulty of non-invasive and sequential monitoring of the same animals. Micro-CT is a powerful tool for serial diagnostic imaging of animal models. However, soft tissue contrast resolution, particularly in the brain, is insufficient for detailed analysis, unlike the current applications of CT in the clinical arena. We address the soft tissue contrast resolution issue in this report.


We performed contrast-enhanced CT (CECT) on mouse models of experimental cerebral infarction and hepatic ischemia. Pathological changes in each lesion were quantified for two weeks by measuring the lesion volume or the ratio of high attenuation area (%HAA), indicative of increased vascular permeability. We also compared brain images of stroke rats and ischemic mice acquired with micro-CT to those acquired with 11.7-T micro-MRI. Histopathological analysis was performed to confirm the diagnosis by CECT.


In the models of cerebral infarction, vascular permeability was increased from three days through one week after surgical initiation, which was also confirmed by Evans blue dye leakage. Measurement of volume and %HAA of the liver lesions demonstrated differences in the recovery process between mice with distinct genetic backgrounds. Comparison of CT and MR images acquired from the same stroke rats or ischemic mice indicated that accuracy of volumetric measurement, as well as spatial and contrast resolutions of CT images, was comparable to that obtained with MRI. The imaging results were also consistent with the histological data.


This study demonstrates that the CECT scanning method is useful in rodents for both quantitative and qualitative evaluations of pathologic lesions in tissues/organs including the brain, and is also suitable for longitudinal observation of the same animals.

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