Miniature pig magnetic resonance spectroscopy model of normal adolescent brain development

Meghann C. Ryan, Peter Kochunov, Paul M. Sherman, Laura M. Rowland, S. Andrea Wijtenburg, Ashley Acheson, L. Elliot Hong, John Sladky, Stephen McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: We are developing the miniature pig (Sus scrofa domestica), an in-vivo translational, gyrencephalic model for brain development, as an alternative to laboratory rodents/non-human primates. We analyzed longitudinal changes in adolescent pigs using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) and examined the relationship with white matter (WM) integrity derived from diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). New method: Twelve female Sinclair pigs underwent three imaging/spectroscopy sessions every 23.95 ± 3.73 days beginning at three months of age using a clinical 3 T scanner. 1H-MRS data were collected using 1.2 × 1.0 × 3.0 cm voxels placed in left and right hemisphere WM using a Point Resolved Spectroscopy sequence (TR = 2000 ms, TE = 30 ms). Concentrations of N-acetylaspartate, myo-inositol (MI), glutamate + glutamine, choline, creatine, and macromolecules (MM) 09 and 14 were averaged from both hemispheres. DWI data were collected using 15 shells of b-values (b = 0–3500 s/mm2) with 32 directions/shell and fit using the WM Tract Integrity model to calculate fractional anisotropy (FA), kurtosis anisotropy (KA) and permeability-diffusivity index. Results: MI and MM09 significantly declined with age. Increased FA and KA significantly correlated with decline in MI and MM09. Correlations lost significance once corrected for age. Comparison with existing methods: MRI scanners/protocols can be used to collect 1H-MRS and DWI data in pigs. Pigs have a larger, more complex, gyrencephalic brain than laboratory rodents but are less complex than non-human primates, thus satisfying the “replacement” principle of animal research. Conclusions: Longitudinal effects in MRS measurements were similar to those reported in adolescent humans. MRS changes correlated with diffusion measurements indicating ongoing WM myelination/maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Adolescent brain development
  • Diffusion weighted imaging
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Miniature pigs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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