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Mapping microglia and astrocyte activation in vivo using diffusion MRI

Garcia-Hernandez, Raquel, Cerdán Cerdá, Antonio, Trouve Carpena, Alejandro, Drakesmith, Mark ORCID:, Koller, Kristin ORCID:, Jones, Derek K. ORCID:, Canals, Santiago and De Santis, Silvia ORCID: 2022. Mapping microglia and astrocyte activation in vivo using diffusion MRI. Science Advances 8 (21) , eabq2923. 10.1126/sciadv.abq2923

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While glia are increasingly implicated in the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, available methods for imaging these cells in vivo involve either invasive procedures or positron emission tomography radiotracers, which afford low resolution and specificity. Here, we present a noninvasive diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method to image changes in glia morphology. Using rat models of neuroinflammation, degeneration, and demyelination, we demonstrate that diffusion-weighted MRI carries a fingerprint of microglia and astrocyte activation and that specific signatures from each population can be quantified noninvasively. The method is sensitive to changes in glia morphology and proliferation, providing a quantitative account of neuroinflammation, regardless of the existence of a concomitant neuronal loss or demyelinating injury. We prove the translational value of the approach showing significant associations between MRI and histological microglia markers in humans. This framework holds the potential to transform basic and clinical research by clarifying the role of inflammation in health and disease.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN: 2375-2548
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 13 April 2022
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 08:35

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