Perfusion single photon emission computed tomography in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1: towards a biomarker of neurologic deficits

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2015 Aug;35(8):1304-12. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2015.43. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a single-gene disorder affecting neurologic function in humans. The NF1+/- mouse model with germline mutation of the NF1 gene presents with deficits in learning, attention, and motor coordination, very similar to NF1 patients. The present study performed brain perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in NF1+/- mice to identify possible perfusion differences as surrogate marker for altered cerebral activity in NF1. Cerebral perfusion was measured with hexamethyl-propyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) SPECT in NF1+/- mice and their wild-type littermates longitudinally at juvenile age and at young adulthood. Histology and immunohistochemistry were performed to test for structural changes. There was increased HMPAO uptake in NF1 mice in the amygdala at juvenile age, which reduced to normal levels at young adulthood. There was no genotype effect on thalamic HMPAO uptake, which was confirmed by ex vivo measurements of F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in the thalamus. Morphologic analyses showed no major structural abnormalities. However, there was some evidence of increased density of microglial somata in the amygdala of NF1-deficient mice. In conclusion, there is evidence of increased perfusion and increased density of microglia in juvenile NF1 mice specifically in the amygdala, both of which might be associated with altered synaptic plasticity and, therefore, with cognitive deficits in NF1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala* / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala* / metabolism
  • Amygdala* / pathology
  • Amygdala* / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders* / genetics
  • Cognition Disorders* / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / genetics
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / metabolism
  • Neurofibromatosis 1* / physiopathology
  • Neurofibromin 1 / genetics
  • Neurofibromin 1 / metabolism
  • Oximes / pharmacology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiography


  • Neurofibromin 1
  • Oximes
  • hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime