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Neuroimaging Evidence of Major Morpho-Anatomical and Functional Abnormalities in the BTBR T+TF/J Mouse Model of Autism

Dodero, Luca and Damiano, Mario and Galbusera, Alberto and Bifone, Angelo and Tsaftaris, Sotirios A. and Scattoni, Maria Luisa and Gozzi, Alessandro Neuroimaging Evidence of Major Morpho-Anatomical and Functional Abnormalities in the BTBR T+TF/J Mouse Model of Autism. PloS One, 8 (10). e76655. ISSN 1932-6203 (2013)

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BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) mice display prominent behavioural deficits analogous to the defining symptoms of autism, a feature that has prompted a widespread use of the model in preclinical autism research. Because neuro-behavioural traits are described with respect to reference populations, multiple investigators have examined and described the behaviour of BTBR mice against that exhibited by C57BL/6J (B6), a mouse line characterised by high sociability and low self-grooming. In an attempt to probe the translational relevance of this comparison for autism research, we used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to map in both strain multiple morpho-anatomical and functional neuroimaging readouts that have been extensively used in patient populations. Diffusion tensor tractography confirmed previous reports of callosal agenesis and lack of hippocampal commissure in BTBR mice, and revealed a concomitant rostro-caudal reorganisation of major cortical white matter bundles. Intact inter-hemispheric tracts were found in the anterior commissure, ventro-medial thalamus, and in a strain-specific white matter formation located above the third ventricle. BTBR also exhibited decreased fronto-cortical, occipital and thalamic gray matter volume and widespread reductions in cortical thickness with respect to control B6 mice. Foci of increased gray matter volume and thickness were observed in the medial prefrontal and insular cortex. Mapping of resting-state brain activity using cerebral blood volume weighted fMRI revealed reduced cortico-thalamic function together with foci of increased activity in the hypothalamus and dorsal hippocampus of BTBR mice. Collectively, our results show pronounced functional and structural abnormalities in the brain of BTBR mice with respect to control B6 mice. The large and widespread white and gray matter abnormalities observed do not appear to be representative of the neuroanatomical alterations typically observed in autistic patients. The presence of reduced fronto-cortical metabolism is of potential translational relevance, as this feature recapitulates previously-reported clinical observations.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076655
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Depositing User: Ms T. Iannizzi
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2013 11:52
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 13:31
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/1919

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