Huntington's disease mouse models online: high-resolution MRI images with stereotaxic templates for computational neuroanatomy

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e53361. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053361. Epub 2012 Dec 31.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has proved to be an ideal modality for non-destructive and highly detailed assessment of structural morphology in biological tissues. Here we used MRI to make a dataset of ex vivo brains from two different rodent models of Huntington's disease (HD), the R6/2 line and the YAC 128 mouse. We are making the whole dataset (399 transgenic HD and wildtype (WT) brains, from mice aged 9-80 weeks) publicly available. These data will be useful, not only to investigators interested in the study of HD, but also to researchers of computational neuroanatomy who may not have access to such large datasets from mouse models. Here we demonstrate a number of uses of such data, for example to produce maps of grey and white matter and cortical thickness. As an example of how the library might provide insights in mouse models of HD, we calculated whole brain grey matter volumes across different age groups with different numbers of cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) repeats in a fragment of the gene responsible for HD in humans. (The R6/2 dataset was obtained from an allelic series of R6/2 mice carrying a range of CAG repeat lengths between 109 and 464.) This analysis revealed different trajectories for each fragment length. In particular there was a gradient of decreasing pathology with longer CAG repeat lengths, reflecting our previous findings with behavioural and histological studies. There will be no constraints placed on the use of the datasets included here. The original data will be easily and permanently accessible via the University of Cambridge data repository (

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Internet
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neurons / pathology

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from CHDI, Inc. to AJM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.