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Acta Otolaryngol. 1995 Jul;115(4):512-6.

MR imaging of neuronal transport in the guinea pig facial nerve: initial findings.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.


Certain dextran coated iron oxides such as MION (monocrystalline iron oxide nanocompound) coupled to wheat germ agglutinin (MION-WGA) have been shown to exhibit i) neuronal uptake ii) axonal transport and iii) strong magnetic effects on tissues (superparamagnetism) in which they are localized. In the current study, we utilized such an agent to visualize axonal transport in the facial nerve in vivo by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Following injection of the compound into the facial nerves of guinea pigs, MR images were obtained at multiple time points (1, 3 and 5 days) and the imaged tissues were processed for subsequent histological examination. In nerves that had been injected with MION-WGA, the entire nerve appeared as a uniformly hypointense structure with a calculated transport rate of 5 mm/day. By 3 days, the agent within the facial nerve was traceable by MRI from a site of injection in the buccal branch to the stylomastoid foramen. Fluorescence and autoradiography studies confirmed axonal transport. These results show that MION-based magnetopharmaceuticals can be used to demonstrate slow axonal transport, and thereby visualize functional peripheral nerves in vivo by MR imaging. The method holds promise for developmental neuroscience research as well as a method to detect neural abnormalities by MR imaging.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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