Ex vivo diffusion-weighted MRI tractography of the Göttingen minipig limbic system

Johannes Bech, Dariusz Orlowski, Andreas N Glud, Tim Bjørn Dyrby, Jens Christian H Sørensen, Carsten R Bjarkam

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Abstract

The limbic system encompasses a collection of brain areas primarily involved in higher cognitive and emotional processing. Altered function in the limbic circuitry may play a major role in various psychiatric disorders. This study aims to provide a high-quality ex vivo diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) tractographic overview of the Göttingen minipig limbic system pathways, which are currently not well described. This may facilitate future translational large animal studies. The study used previously obtained post-mortem DWI scans in 3 female Göttingen minipigs aging 11-15 months. The tractography performed on the DWI data set was made using a probabilistic algorithm, and regions of interest (ROIs) were defined in accordance with a histological atlas. The investigated pathways included the fornix, mammillothalamic tract, stria terminalis, stria medullaris, habenulo-interpeduncular tract, and cingulum. All the investigated limbic connections could be visualized with a high detail yielding a comprehensive three-dimensional overview, which was emphasized by the inclusion of video material. The minipig limbic system pathways displayed using tractography closely resembled what was previously described in both human studies and neuronal tracing studies from other mammalian species. We encountered well-known inherent methodological challenges of tractography, e.g., partial volume effects and complex white matter regions, which may have contributed to derouted false-positive streamlines and the failure to visualize some of the minor limbic pathway ramifications. This underlines the importance of preexisting anatomical knowledge. Conclusively, we have, for the first time, provided an overview and substantial insight of the Göttingen minipig limbic system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Volume225
Pages (from-to)1055–1071
ISSN1863-2653
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Cingulum
  • Fornix
  • Mammillothalamic tract
  • Stria medullaris
  • Stria terminalis
  • Sus scrofa

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