Biomedical Imaging Technology Center
Animal MR is usually conducted at high fields (> 3T), which provide a better signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and high spatial resolutions (down to 10-50 microns). Advances in past decades have made animal MR imaging and MR spectroscopy an indispensable tool for in vivo biomedical research. For example, MR can be used for phenotyping genetically engineered animals, assessing physiological and functional status of animal models, and providing pharmacokinetic information and monitoring therapeutic effects in drug development.Our current research utilizes a 4.7T, 40-cm bore Varian animal MRI system, equipped with two sets of shielded gradient coils. The system are is used to study various animal models, including invertebrates, mice, rats, and small monkeys. Currently, our research effort focuses on functional brain imaging using blood-oxygenation level dependent contrast and cerebral perfusion, and manganese enhanced MRI. A general description of functional imaging can be found elsewhere in our webpage. Manganese is a robust T1 contrast agent for MRI. In vivo, manganese ion (Mn++) is also an analog of Ca++, which plays an important role in neuronal activity. For example, Mn++ acts as an analog of Ca++ and is actively transported along fibers and axons via gated Ca+ channels, and localized administration of Mn++ in the central nervous system allows MRI to visualize neuronal connections. The figure below illustrates that intravitreal and cortical MnCl2 injection permits the visualization of projections and connectivities in the monkey brain.
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