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Neurobiol Dis. 2009 Jan;33(1):12-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2008.09.017. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Use of magnetic resonance imaging for anatomical phenotyping of the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

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Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative CAG disorder characterized by marked brain atrophy. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with manual volumetry for three dimensional (3D) morphological phenotyping of ex vivo brains of R6/2 mice, the most commonly used model of HD. High resolution 3D images were acquired for 18 week old wild-type (WT) and R6/2 mice. Although overall brain volumes were the same between genotypes, decreases in volumes were found in the cortex and striatum of R6/2 mice, with significant volume increases in the lateral ventricles and globus pallidus. There was no change in the volume of the amygdala, internal capsule or hippocampal formation. There was a significant increase in signal intensity in the globus pallidus, amygdala, cortex and striatum in R6/2 mice that may reflect neuronal atrophy. This study clearly shows the potential of MRI for morphological phenotyping of rodent models of HD and other neurological diseases. Having obtained proof-of-principle for the technique using ex vivo tissue, it is now our intention to carry out in vivo measurement of developing pathology in HD transgenic mice, and correlate this with behavioral deficits.

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