Many of the focal neurological symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are due to synaptic loss. Glutamate chemical exchange saturation transfer (GluCEST) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a candidate method to assess synaptic dysfunction. We assessed chronological changes in GluCEST in a 5xFAD mouse model of AD, comparing Glucest effects and regional cerebral blood flow (CBF). GluCEST effects and CBF in 5xFAD mice aged 1-15 months and their littermates (WT) were measured. Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI) MRI reflecting dendritic/axonal density was also measured and compared with GluCEST in 7-month-old mice. While regional CBF's decrease began at 7 months, GluCEST-reduction effects preceded hypoperfusion of the temporal cortex and hippocampus. While longitudinal 5xFAD mouse measurements revealed a correlation between the regional GluCEST effects and CBF, a generalized linear mixed model revealed statistically different correlations in cortical and basal brain regions. Further, NODDI-derived neurite density correlated with GluCEST effects in the parietal cortex, but not in the hippocampus, thereby revealing regional differences in pathophysiological mechanisms. Finally, GluCEST's effects correlated with regional synaptophysin. These results demonstrate that GluCEST can reflect subtle synaptic changes and may be a potential imaging method for AD diagnosis as well as serve as a biomarker of AD progression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging