Mouse models of Down syndrome (DS) exhibit abnormal brain developmental and neurodegenerative changes similar to those seen in individuals with DS. Although DS mice have been well characterized cognitively and morphologically there are no prior reports utilizing diffusion MRI. In this study we investigated the ability of diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI) to detect the progressive developmental and neurodegenerative changes in the Ts65Dn (TS) DS mouse model. TS mice displayed higher diffusional kurtosis (DK) in the frontal cortex (FC) compared to normal mice at 2months of age. At 5months of age, TS mice had lower radial kurtosis in the striatum (ST), which persisted in the 8-month-old mice. The TS mice exhibited lower DK metrics values in the dorsal hippocampus (HD) at all ages, and the group difference in this region was larger at 8-months. Regression analysis showed that normal mice had a significant age-related increase in DK metrics in FC, ST and HD. On the contrary, the TS mice lacked significant age-related increase in DK metrics in FC and ST. Although preliminary, these results demonstrate that DK metrics can detect TS brain developmental and neurodegenerative abnormalities.
Keywords: DKI; Diffusion; Down syndrome; Kurtosis; MRI; Mouse.
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