Volumetric structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the rat hippocampus following kainic acid (KA) treatment
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
An in vivo MRI study employing a high field (7T) magnet and a T1- and T2-weighted imaging sequence with subsequent histopathological evaluations was undertaken to develop and evaluate MRI-based volumetric measurements in the rat. The brain structures considered were the hippocampus, the cingulate cortex, the retrosplenial granular cortex and the ventricles. Control (n=3) and kainic acid (KA; n=4) treated rats were scanned 10 days following the manifestation of stage four seizures. The MRI images exhibited anatomical details (125 microm in-plane resolution) that enabled volumetric analysis with high intra-rater reliability. Volumetric analysis revealed that KA-treated rats had significantly smaller hippocampi, and a significant increase in ventricular size. The cingulate cortex and the retrosplenial granular cortex did not differ in volume between the two groups. The histological observations supported the MRI data showing neuronal loss and neuronal degeneration in CA1 and CA3 of the hippocampus, which was accompanied by strong microglia activation. These data demonstrate a reliable and valid method for the measurement of the rat hippocampus in vivo using MRI with a high field magnet, thereby providing a useful tool for future studies of rodent models of neuro-degenerative diseases.