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Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Jan;39(1):85-91. doi: 10.1177/0192623310389622. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

Quantitative neuromorphometry using magnetic resonance histology.

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Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy, Durham, NC27710, USA.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), now common in the clinical domain, has been adapted for use by the neuropathologist by increasing the spatial resolution over 100,000 times what is common in human clinical imaging. This increase in spatial resolution has been accomplished through a variety of technical advances-higher magnetic fields, more sensitive receivers, and clever encoding methods. Magnetic resonance histology (MRH), that is, the application of MRI to study tissue specimens, now makes three-dimensional imaging of the fixed brain in the cranium routine. Active staining (perfusion fixation with a paramagnetic contrast agent) has allowed us to reduce the scan time by more than 8 times over earlier methods. The result is a three-dimensional isotropic image array that can be viewed along any direction without loss of spatial resolution. Homologous slices can be chosen interactively. Since the tissue is still fully hydrated in the cranium, tissue shrinkage and distortion are virtually eliminated. Volume measurements of neural structures can be made with a high degree of precision and accuracy. MRH will not replace more traditional methods, but it promises enormous value in choosing particular areas and times for more traditional sectioning and assessment.

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