Mapping of functional brain activity in freely behaving rats during voluntary running using manganese-enhanced MRI: Implication for longitudinal studies
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used in basic and clinical research to map the structural and functional organization of the brain. An important need of MR research is for contrast agents that improve soft-tissue contrast, enable visualization of neuronal tracks, and enhance the capacity of MRI to provide functional information at different temporal scales. Unchelated manganese can be such an agent, and manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) can potentially be an excellent technique for localization of brain activity (for review see Silva et al., 2004). Yet, the toxicity of manganese presents a major limitation for employing MEMRI in behavioral paradigms. We have tested systematically the voluntary wheel running behavior of rats after systemic application of MnCl2 in a dose range of 16–80 mg/kg, which is commonly used in MEMRI studies. The results show a robust dose-dependent decrease in motor performance, which was accompanied by weight loss and decrease in food intake. The adverse effects lasted for up to 7 post-injection days. The lowest dose of MnCl2 (16 mg/kg) produced minimal adverse effects, but was not sufficient for functional mapping. We have therefore evaluated an alternative method of manganese delivery via osmotic pumps, which provide a continuous and slow release of manganese. In contrast to a single systemic injection, the pump method did not produce any adverse locomotor effects, while achieving a cumulative concentration of manganese (80 mg/kg) sufficient for functional mapping. Thus, MEMRI with such an optimized manganese delivery that avoids toxic effects can be safely applied for longitudinal studies in behaving animals.
Publication typeJournal article