Improved method for MR microscopy of brain tissue cultured with the interface method combined with Lenz lenses

Publication date: October 2018
Source:Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Volume 52
Author(s): R. Kamberger, K. Göbel-Guéniot, J. Gerlach, O.G. Gruschke, J. Hennig, P. LeVan, C. Haas, J.G. Korvink
MR in microscopy can non-invasively image the morphology of living tissue, which is of particular interest in studying the mammalian brain. Many studies use live animals for basic research on brain functions, disease pathogenesis, and drug development. However, in vitro systems are on the rise, due to advantages such as the absence of a blood-brain barrier, predictable pharmacokinetics, and reduced ethical restrictions. Hence, they present an inexpensive and adequate technique to answer scientific questions and to perform drug screenings. Some publications report the use of acute brain slices for MR microscopy studies, but these only permit single measurements over several hours. Repetitive MR measurements in longitudinal studies demand an MR-compatible setup which allows cultivation for several days or weeks, and hence properly functioning in vitro systems. Organotypic hippocampal slice cultures (OHSC) are a well-established and robust in vitro system which still exhibits most histological hallmarks of the hippocampal network in vivo. An MR compatible incubation platform is introduced in which OHSC are cultivated according to the interface method following Stoppini et al. In this cultivation method a tissue slice is placed onto a membrane with nutrition medium underneath and a gas atmosphere above, where the air-tissue interface perpendicular to the B0 field induces strong artefacts. We introduce a handling protocol that suppresses these artefacts and increases signal quality significantly to acquire high resolution images of tissue slices. An additional challenge is the lack of available of MR microscopy equipment suitable for small animal scanners. A Lenz lens with an attached capacitor can dramatically increase the SNR in these cases, and wirelessly bring the detection system in close proximity to the sample without compromising the OHSC system through the introduction of wired detectors. The resultant signal gain is demonstrated by imaging a PFA-fixed brain slice with a 72 mm diameter volume coil without a Lenz lens, and with a broadband and a self-resonant Lenz lens. In our setting, the self-resonant Lenz lens increases the SNR 10-fold over using the volume coil only.