Abnormal vascular phenotypes have been implicated in neuropathologies ranging from Alzheimer's disease to brain tumors. The development of transgenic mouse models of such diseases has created a crucial need for characterizing the murine neurovasculature. Although histologic techniques are excellent for imaging the microvasculature at submicron resolutions, they offer only limited coverage. It is also challenging to reconstruct the three-dimensional (3D) vasculature and other structures, such as white matter tracts, after tissue sectioning. Here, we describe a novel method for 3D whole-brain mapping of the murine vasculature using magnetic resonance microscopy (MRI), and its application to a preclinical brain tumor model. The 3D vascular architecture was characterized by six morphologic parameters: vessel length, vessel radius, microvessel density, length per unit volume, fractional blood volume, and tortuosity. Region-of-interest analysis showed significant differences in the vascular phenotype between the tumor and the contralateral brain, as well as between postinoculation day 12 and day 17 tumors. These results unequivocally show the feasibility of using MRI to characterize the vascular phenotype of brain tumors. Finally, we show that combining these vascular data with coregistered images acquired with diffusion-weighted MRI provides a new tool for investigating the relationship between angiogenesis and concomitant changes in the brain tumor microenvironment.
- brain tumor microenvironment
- diffusion tensor imaging
- magnetic resonance microscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine