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7 Tesla MRI Followed by Histological 3D Reconstructions in Whole-Brain Specimens

Publication year 2020
Published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
Authors Anneke Alkemade, Kerrin Pine, Evgeniya Kirilina, Max C Keuken, Martijn J Mulder, R.A. Balesar, Josephine M Groot, Ronald L A W Bleys, Robert Trampel, Nikolaus Weiskopf, Andreas Herrler, Harald E Möller, P.L. Bazin, Birte Forstmann

Post mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies on the human brain are of great interest for the validation of in vivo MRI. It facilitates a link between functional and anatomical information available from MRI in vivo and neuroanatomical knowledge available from histology/immunocytochemistry. However, linking in vivo and post mortem MRI to microscopy techniques poses substantial challenges. Fixation artifacts and tissue deformation of extracted brains, as well as co registration of 2D histology to 3D MRI volumes complicate direct comparison between modalities. Moreover, post mortem brain tissue does not have the same physical properties as in vivo tissue, and therefore MRI approaches need to be adjusted accordingly. Here, we present a pipeline in which whole-brain human post mortem in situ MRI is combined with subsequent tissue processing of the whole human brain, providing a 3-dimensional reconstruction via blockface imaging. To this end, we adapted tissue processing procedures to allow both post mortem MRI and subsequent histological and immunocytochemical processing. For MRI, tissue was packed in a susceptibility matched solution, tailored to fit the dimensions of the MRI coil. Additionally, MRI sequence parameters were adjusted to accommodate T1 and T2∗ shortening, and scan time was extended, thereby benefiting the signal-to-noise-ratio that can be achieved using extensive averaging without motion artifacts. After MRI, the brain was extracted from the skull and subsequently cut while performing optimized blockface imaging, thereby allowing three-dimensional reconstructions. Tissues were processed for Nissl and silver staining, and co-registered with the blockface images. The combination of these techniques allows direct comparisons across modalities.

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