There are exciting new advances in multiple sclerosis (MS) resulting in a growing understanding of both the complexity of the disorder and the relative involvement of grey matter, white matter and inflammation. Increasing need for preclinical imaging is anticipated, as animal models provide insights into the pathophysiology of the disease. Magnetic resonance (MR) is the key imaging tool used to diagnose and to monitor disease progression in MS, and thus will be a cornerstone for future research. Although gadolinium-enhancing and T2 lesions on MRI have been useful for detecting MS pathology, they are not correlative of disability. Therefore, new MRI methods are needed. Such methods require validation in animal models. The increasing necessity for MRI of animal models makes it critical and timely to understand what research has been conducted in this area and what potential there is for use of MRI in preclinical models of MS. Here, we provide a review of MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies that have been carried out in animal models of MS that focus on pathology. We compare the MRI phenotypes of animals and patients and provide advice on how best to use animal MR studies to increase our understanding of the linkages between MR and pathology in patients. This review describes how MRI studies of animal models have been, and will continue to be, used in the ongoing effort to understand MS.
Keywords: Cuprizone; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Lysolecithin; Magnetic resonance imaging; Multiple sclerosis; Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus.