R6/2 Huntington’s Disease Mice Develop Early and Progressive Abnormal Brain Metabolism and Seizures

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Abstract

A hallmark feature of Huntington’s disease pathology is the atrophy of brain regions including, but not limited to, the striatum. Though MRI studies have identified structural CNS changes in several Huntington’s disease (HD) mouse models, the functional consequences of HD pathology during the progression of the disease have yet to be investigated using in vivo functional MRI (fMRI). To address this issue, we first established the structural and functional MRI phenotype of juvenile HD mouse model R6/2 at early and advanced stages of disease. Significantly higher fMRI signals [relative cerebral blood volumes (rCBVs)] and atrophy were observed in both age groups in specific brain regions. Next, fMRI results were correlated with electrophysiological analysis, which showed abnormal increases in neuronal activity in affected brain regions, thus identifying a mechanism accounting for the abnormal fMRI findings. [14C] 2-deoxyglucose maps to investigate patterns of glucose utilization were also generated. An interesting mismatch between increases in rCBV and decreases in glucose uptake was observed. Finally, we evaluated the sensitivity of this mouse line to audiogenic seizures early in the disease course. We found that R6/2 mice had an increased susceptibility to develop seizures. Together, these findings identified seizure activity in R6/2 mice and show that neuroimaging measures sensitive to oxygen metabolism can be used as in vivo biomarkers, preceding the onset of an overt behavioral phenotype. Since fMRI-rCBV can also be obtained in patients, we propose that it may serve as a translational tool to evaluate therapeutic responses in humans and HD mouse models.

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Source: jneurosci.org

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