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Magn Reson Med. 2009 Dec;62(6):1431-9. doi: 10.1002/mrm.22113.

Three-dimensional micro-MRI analysis of cerebral artery development in mouse embryos.

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Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Vascular system development involves a complex, three-dimensional branching process that is critical for normal embryogenesis. In the brain, the arterial systems appear to develop in a stereotyped fashion, but no detailed quantitative analyses of the mouse embryonic cerebral arteries have been described. In this study, a gadolinium-based contrast perfusion method was developed to selectively enhance the cerebral arteries in fixed mouse embryos. Three-dimensional magnetic resonance micro-imaging (micro-MRI) data were acquired simultaneously from multiple embryos staged between 10 and 17 days of gestation, and a variety of image analysis methods was used to extract and analyze the cerebral arterial patterns. The results show that the primary arterial branches in the mouse brain are very similar between individuals, with the patterns established early and growth occurring by extension of the segments, while maintaining the underlying vascular geometry. To investigate the utility of this method for mutant mouse phenotype analysis, contrast-enhanced micro-MRI data were acquired from Gli2(-/-) mutant embryos and their wild-type littermates, showing several previously unreported vascular phenotypes in Gli2(-/-) embryos, including the complete absence of the basilar artery. These results demonstrate that contrast-enhanced micro-MRI provides a powerful tool for analyzing vascular phenotypes in a variety of genetically engineered mice.

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