April 14, 2021

In vivo multi-parametric manganese-enhanced MRI for detecting senile plaques in rodent models of Alzheimer’s disease

Senile plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that develop in its earliest stages. Thus, non-invasive detection of these plaques would be invaluable for diagnosis and the development and monitoring of treatments, but this remains a challenge due to their small size. Here, we investigated the utility of manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) for visualizing plaques in transgenic rodent models of AD across two species: 5xFAD mice and TgF344-AD rats. Fourteen mice (eight transgenic, six wild-type) and eight rats (four transgenic, four wild-type) were given subcutaneous injections of MnCl2 and imaged in vivo using a 9.4T Bruker scanner. Susceptibility-weighted images, transverse relaxation rate (R2*) maps, and quantitative susceptibility maps were derived from high-resolution 3D multi-gradient-echo (MGE) data to directly visualize plaques. Longitudinal relaxation rate (R1) maps were derived from MP2RAGE data to measure regional manganese uptake. After scanning, the brains were processed for histology and stained for beta-amyloid (4G8 antibody), iron (Perl’s), and calcium/manganese (Alizarin Red). MnCl2 improved signal-to-noise ratio (1.55{+/-}0.39-fold increase in MGE images) as expected, although this was not necessary for detection of plaques in the high-resolution images. Plaques were visible in susceptibility-weighted images, R2* maps, and quantitative susceptibility maps, with increased R2* and more positive magnetic susceptibility compared to surrounding tissue. In the 5xFAD mice, most MR-visible plaques were in the hippocampus, though histology confirmed plaques in the cortex and thalamus as well. In the TgF344-AD rats, many more plaques were MR-visible throughout the hippocampus and cortex. Beta-amyloid and iron staining indicate that, in both models, MR visibility was driven by plaque size and iron load. Voxel-wise comparison of R1 maps revealed increased manganese uptake in brain regions of high plaque burden in transgenic animals compared to their wild-type littermates. Interestingly, in contrast to plaque visibility in the high-resolution images, the increased manganese uptake was limited to the rhinencephalon in the TgF344-AD rats (family-wise error (FWE)-corrected p < 0.05) while it was most significantly increased in the cortex of the 5xFAD mice (FWE-corrected p < 0.3). Alizarin Red staining suggests that manganese bound to plaques in 5xFAD mice but not in TgF344-AD rats. Multi-parametric MEMRI is a simple, viable method for detecting senile plaques in rodent models of AD. Manganese-induced signal enhancement can enable higher-resolution imaging, which is key to visualizing these small amyloid deposits. We also present in vivo evidence of manganese as a potential targeted contrast agent for imaging plaques in the 5xFAD model of AD.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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