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Identification of cellular infiltrates during early stages of brain inflammation with magnetic resonance microscopy

Waiczies, H;Millward, JM;Lepore, S;Infante-Duarte, C;Pohlmann, A;Niendorf, T;Waiczies, S;

A comprehensive view of brain inflammation during the pathogenesis of autoimmune encephalomyelitis can be achieved with the aid of high resolution non-invasive imaging techniques such as microscopic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this study we demonstrate the benefits of cryogenically-cooled RF coils to produce MRI in vivo, with sufficient detail to reveal brain pathology in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. We could visualize inflammatory infiltrates in detail within various regions of the brain, already at an early phase of EAE. Importantly, this pathology could be seen clearly even without the use of contrast agents, and showed excellent correspondence with conventional histology. The cryogenically-cooled coil enabled the acquisition of high resolution images within short scan times: an important practical consideration in conducting animal experiments. The detail of the cellular infiltrates visualized by in vivo MRI allows the opportunity to follow neuroinflammatory processes even during the early stages of disease progression. Thus MRI will not only complement conventional histological examination but will also enable longitudinal studies on the kinetics and dynamics of immune cell infiltration.