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Neurobiol Aging. 1998 Sep-Oct;19(5):479-85.

Magnetic resonance imaging of anatomic and vascular characteristics in a canine model of human aging.

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Health Sciences Research Imaging Center, University of California, Irvine 92697, USA.


Dogs exhibit both neuroanatomical and cognitive changes as a function of age that parallel those seen in aging humans. This study describes in vivo changes in neuroanatomical and cerebrovascular characteristics of the canine brain as a function of age in a group of dogs ranging from 4 to 15 years old. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to measure the kinetics of contrast agents in the brain. Measures of vascular volume and blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability were derived from a pharmacokinetic analysis. Cortical atrophy and ventricular enlargement were characteristic features of the aged canine brain. Vascular volume did not vary as a function of age and BBB permeability exhibited a nonsignificant increasing trend with age. However, BBB dysfunction was detected in one middle-aged dog that in addition to having unusually large ventricles, demonstrated an early onset of diffuse senile plaques at postmortem. These findings indicate that BBB dysfunction detected by magnetic resonance imaging may be useful for predicting and potentially diagnosing early pathological conditions.

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