In Vivo MRI of Amyloid Plaques in a Cholesterol-Fed Rabbit Model of Alzheimer's Disease
Journal of Alzheimers Disease
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Hypercholesterolemia has been identified as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. In this study, rabbits were fed either a cholesterol diet or normal chow diet for 24 months. At endpoint, in vivo MRI was performed at the field strength of 3 Tesla using fast imaging employing steady state acquisition without (FIESTA) or with susceptibility-weighted post-processing (SWI-FIESTA) and susceptibility-weighted imaging with multi-echo acquisition (SWAN). This imaging revealed signal voids/hypointensities throughout the cortex, sub-cortex, and hippocampus of cholesterol-fed animals compared to control animals. Quantitative image analysis corroborated these qualitative findings and highlighted that SWI processing of FIESTA images significantly improved the detectability of plaques (p < 0.05). A beta immunostaining and Prussian blue staining for iron demonstrated that the voids in MR images corresponded to iron-laden A beta-positive plaques. This study demonstrates non-invasive in vivo visualization of A beta plaques in a diet-induced large animal model of Alzheimer's disease. This work lays the foundation for future work focusing on longitudinal monitoring of plaque formation in this model and the effects of diet or drug interventions.