Background: Tree shrews are proposed as an alternative animal model to nonhuman primates due to their close affinity to primates. Neuroimaging techniques are widely used to study brain functions and structures of humans and animals. However, tree shrews are rarely applied in neuroimaging field partly due to the lack of available species specific analysis methods.
New method: In this study, 10 PET/CT and 10 MRI images of tree shrew brain were used to construct PET and MRI templates; based on histological atlas we reconstructed a three-dimensional digital atlas with 628 structures delineated; then the digital atlas and templates were aligned into a stereotaxic space. Finally, we integrated the digital atlas and templates into a toolbox for tree shrew brain spatial normalization, statistical analysis and results localization.
Results: We validated the feasibility of the toolbox by simulated data with lesions in laterodorsal thalamic nucleus (LD). The lesion volumes of simulated PET and MRI images were (12.97±3.91)mm3 and (7.04±0.84)mm3. Statistical results at p<0.005 showed the lesion volumes of PET and MRI were 13.18mm3 and 8.06mm3 in LD.
Comparison with existing method(s): To our knowledge, we report the first PET template and digital atlas of tree shrew brain. Compared to the existing MRI templates, our MRI template was aligned into stereotaxic space. And the toolbox is the first software dedicated for tree shrew brain analysis.
Conclusions: The templates and digital atlas of tree shrew brain, as well as the toolbox, facilitate the use of tree shrews in neuroimaging field.
Keywords: Brain; Digital atlas; Magnetic resonance imaging; Positron emission tomography; Template; Tree shrew.
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