In vivo morphological changes in animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer's-like disease: MRI approach.

Fabrizio Pizzolante, Carlo Gangitano, Fabrizio Michetti, Pr Andjus, D Bataveljic, G Vanhoutte, D Mitrecic, N Djogo, C Nicaise, F Gankam Kengne, A Van Der Linden, R Pochet, G. Bacic

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the only noninvasive technique that provides structural information on both cell loss and metabolic changes. After reviewing all the results obtained in clinical studies, reliable biomarkers in neurological diseases are still lacking. Diffusional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and the assessment of regional atrophy are promising approaches, but they cannot be simultaneously used on a single patient. Thus, for further research progress, reliable animal models are needed. To this aim, we have used the clinical MRI to assess neurodegenerative processes in the hSOD-1(G93A) ALS rat model and in the trimethyltin (TMT)-treated model of Alzheimer's-like disease. T2-weighted (T2W) hyperintensive neurodegenerative foci were found in the brainstem of the ALS rat with apparent lateral ventricle dilation (T1W-hypointensity vs. T2W-hyperintensity). Degenerative processes in these areas were also confirmed by confocal images of GFAP-positive astrogliosis. MRI after i.v.i. of magnetic anti-CD4 antibodies indicated an accumulation of inflammatory cells near dilated ventricles. TMT-treated rats also revealed the dilation of lateral ventricles. Expected deterioration in the hippocampus was not observed by clinical MRI, but immunocytochemistry could reveal significant redistribution of macro- and microglia in this structure. In both models, Gd-DTPA contrast revealed a compromised blood brain barrier that may serve as the passage for inflammatory immune cells in the vicinity of dilated lateral ventricles. Moreover, in both models the midbrain region of the dorsal hippocampus was the target of BBB compromise, thus revealing a potentially vulnerable point that can be the primary target of neurodegeneration in the central nervous system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1882-1892
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Alzheimer's-like disease
  • MRI approach
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


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