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Hochstrasser, Tanja; Ruehling, Sebastian; Hecher, Kerstin; Fabisch, Kai H.; Chrzanowski, Uta; Brendel, Matthias; Eckenweber, Florian; Sacher, Christian; Schmitz, Christoph; Kipp, Markus (2019): Stereological Investigation of Regional Brain Volumes after Acute and Chronic Cuprizone-Induced Demyelination. In: Cells, Vol. 8, No. 9, 1024
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Abstract

Brain volume measurement is one of the most frequently used biomarkers to establish neuroprotective effects during pre-clinical multiple sclerosis (MS) studies. Furthermore, whole-brain atrophy estimates in MS correlate more robustly with clinical disability than traditional, lesion-based metrics. However, the underlying mechanisms leading to brain atrophy are poorly understood, partly due to the lack of appropriate animal models to study this aspect of the disease. The purpose of this study was to assess brain volumes and neuro-axonal degeneration after acute and chronic cuprizone-induced demyelination. C57BL/6 male mice were intoxicated with cuprizone for up to 12 weeks. Brain volume, as well as total numbers and densities of neurons, were determined using design-based stereology. After five weeks of cuprizone intoxication, despite severe demyelination, brain volumes were not altered at this time point. After 12 weeks of cuprizone intoxication, a significant volume reduction was found in the corpus callosum and diverse subcortical areas, particularly the internal capsule and the thalamus. Thalamic volume loss was accompanied by glucose hypermetabolism, analyzed by [F-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (18F-FDG) positron-emission tomography. This study demonstrates region-specific brain atrophy of different subcortical brain regions after chronic cuprizone-induced demyelination. The chronic cuprizone demyelination model in male mice is, thus, a useful tool to study the underlying mechanisms of subcortical brain atrophy and to investigate the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.