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Diffusion Tensor Imaging Reveals Whole-Brain Microstructural Changes in the P301L Mouse Model of Tauopathy

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Massalimova Aidana, Ni Ruiqing, Nitsch Roger M., Reisert Marco, von Elverfeldt Dominik, Klohs Jan,
Project Investigating the effects of hypercholesterolemia on neutrophil-mediated thromboinflammation after cerebral ischemia
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Neurodegenerative Diseases
Page(s) 1 - 12
Title of proceedings Neurodegenerative Diseases
DOI 10.1159/000515754

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Introduction: Increased expression of hyperphosphorylated tau and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles are associated with neuronal loss and white matter damage. Using high-resolution ex vivo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), we investigated microstructural changes in the white and grey matter in the P301L mouse model of human tauopathy at 8.5 months of age. For unbiased computational analysis, we implemented a pipeline for voxel-based analysis (VBA) and atlas-based analysis (ABA) of DTI mouse brain data. Methods: Hemizygous and homozygous transgenic P301L mice and non-transgenic littermates were used. DTI data were acquired for generation of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD) maps. VBA on the entire brain was performed using SPM8 and the SPM Mouse toolbox. Initially, all DTI maps were coregistered with the Allen mouse brain atlas to bring them to one common coordinate space. In VBA, coregistered DTI maps were normalized and smoothed in order to perform two-sample and unpaired t tests with false discovery rate correction to compare hemizygotes with non-transgenic littermates, homozygotes with non-transgenic littermates, and hemizygotes with homozygotes on each DTI parameter map. In ABA, the average values for selected regions of interests were computed with coregistered DTI maps and labels in Allen mouse brain atlas. Afterwards, a Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA on ranks with a Tukey post hoc test was executed on the estimated average values. Results: With VBA, we found pronounced and brain-wide spread changes when comparing homozygous, P301L mice with non-transgenic littermates, which were not seen when comparing hemizygous P301L with non-transgenic animals. Statistical comparison of DTI metrics in selected brain regions by ABA corroborated findings from VBA. FA was found to be decreased in most brain regions, while MD, RD, and AD were increased in homozygotes compared to hemizygotes and non-transgenic littermates. Discussion/Conclusion: High-resolution ex vivo DTI demonstrated brain-wide microstructural and gene-dose-dependent changes in the P301L mouse model of human tauopathy. The DTI analysis pipeline may serve for the phenotyping of models of tauopathy and other brain diseases.