MRI has superior anatomical soft-tissue contrast at relative high resolution. However, MRI has multiple applications beyond just revealing anatomical information. Below a non-exhaustive list of (functional) MRI modalities is described (in which IMARK has demonstrated expertise):
Anatomical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging excels in contrast resolution and is the ideal technique to visualize the anatomical structure of soft tissues like the brain by T1, T2 or T2* contrast. The Bio-Imaging Lab was among the first laboratories to report amyloid plaques (T2* contrast) and brain atrophy (volumetric MRI) in transgenic amyloidosis models of Alzheimer.
More sophisticated acquisition protocols like diffusion imaging (DWI, DKI) enables MRI to reveal specific ultra-structural changes. The bio-Imaging Lab is one of the forerunners on DKI MRI in rodent models of neuro inflammation and amyloidosis. Furthermore, diffusion MRI combined with fiber tracking algorithms allow the visualization of major brain connections. MRI has also been successfully applied by the Bio-Imaging Lab in the field of neuroregeneration research as MRI is a tool that allows for monitoring contrast particle-loaded stem cells.
A blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) acquisition allows for monitoring brain activity at rest (resting state fMRI) or after (pharmacological) stimulation (fMRI).
Arterial spin labelling is an alternative MRI sequence that enables quantification of cerebral perfusion (at rest or upon stimulation). Furthermore, contrast agents can be applied for instance to probe for blood-brain-barrier integrity by DCE-MRI.
MR Spectroscopy (MRS)
MRS is an MRI technique that enables determining the metabolite profile within a specific brain region and the technique has been explored by the Bio-Imaging Lab in a number of neurodegenerative disease models.
The Bio-Imaging Lab has four MRI systems for pre-clinical research: two 7T Pharmascan (Bruker), one 9.4T BioSpec (Bruker) and one 4.7T desktop MRI (MR Solution). For human MRI the department of Radiology of the University hospital (UZA) has two 3T systems (Philips) which are used for research purposes as well.