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Imaging mouse models of neurodegeneration using multi-parametric MRI

Holmes, HE; (2015) Imaging mouse models of neurodegeneration using multi-parametric MRI. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating condition characterised by significant cognitive impairment and memory loss. Transgenic mouse models are increasingly being used to further our knowledge of the cause and progression of AD, and identify new targets for therapeutic intervention. These mice permit the study of specific pathological hallmarks of the disease, including intracellular deposits of hyperphosphorylated tau protein and extracellular amyloid plaques. In order to characterise these transgenic mice, robust biomarkers are required to evaluate neurodegenerative changes and facilitate preclinical evaluation of emerging therapeutics. In this work, a platform for in vivo structural imaging of the rTg4510 mouse model of tauopathy was developed and optimised. This was combined with a range of other clinically relevant magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers including: arterial spin labelling, diffusion tensor imaging and chemical exchange saturation transfer. These techniques were applied in a single time-point study of aged rTg4510 mice, as well as a longitudinal study to serially assess neurodegeneration in the same cohort of animals. Doxycycline was administered to a subset of rTg4510 mice to suppress the tau transgene; this novel intervention strategy permitted the evaluation of the sensitivity of MRI biomarkers to the accumulation and suppression of tau. Follow-up ex vivo scans were acquired in order to assess the sensitivity of in vivo structural MRI to the current preclinical gold standard. High resolution structural MRI, when used in conjunction with advanced computational analysis, yielded high sensitivity to pathological changes occurring in the rTg4510 mouse. Atrophy was reduced in animals treated with doxycycline. All other MRI biomarkers were able to discriminate between doxycycline-treated and untreated rTg4510 mice as well as wildtype controls, and provided insight into complimentary pathological mechanisms occurring within the disease process. In addition, this imaging protocol was applied to the J20 mouse model of familial AD. This mouse exhibits widespread plaque formation, enabling the study of amyloid-specific pathological changes. Atrophy and deficits in cerebral blood flow were observed; however, the changes occurring in this model were markedly less than those observed in the rTg4510 mouse. This study was expanded to investigate the early-onset AD observed in individuals with Down’s syndrome (DS) by breeding the J20 mouse with the Tc1 mouse model of DS, permitting the relationship between genetics and neurodegeneration to be dissected. This thesis demonstrates the application of in vivo multi-parametric MRI to mouse models of neurodegeneration. All techniques were sensitive to pathological changes occurring in the models, and may serve as important biomarkers in clinical studies of AD. In addition, in vivo multi-parametric MRI permits longitudinal studies of the same animal cohort. This experimental design produces more powerful results, whilst contributing to worldwide efforts to reduce animal usage with respect to the 3Rs principles.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Imaging mouse models of neurodegeneration using multi-parametric MRI
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: alzheimer's disease, magnetic resonance imaging, phenotyping, down's syndrome, mri
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473413
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