GlyCEST: Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Glycine—Distribution in the Normal Murine Brain and Alterations in 5xFAD Mice
The glycine level in the brain is known to be altered in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Several studies have reported the in vivo measurement of glycine concentrations in the brain using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), but 1H-MRS is not capable of imaging the distribution of glycine concentration with high spatial resolution. Chemical exchange saturation transfer magnetic resonance imaging (CEST-MRI) is a new technology that can detect specific molecules, including amino acids, in tissues. To validate the measurements of glycine concentrations in living tissues using CEST from glycine to water (GlyCEST), we extracted the brain tissues from mice and performed biochemical tests. In wild-type C57BL/6 mice, GlyCEST effects were found to be higher in the thalamus than in the cerebral cortex ( P < 0.0001 , paired t-test), and this result was in good agreement with the biochemical results. In 5xFAD mice, an animal model of AD, GlyCEST measurements demonstrated that glycine concentrations in the cerebral cortex ( P < 0.05 , unpaired t-test) and thalamus ( P < 0.0001 , unpaired t-test), but not in the hippocampus, were decreased compared to those in wild-type mice. These findings suggest that we have successfully applied the CEST-MRI technique to map the distribution of glycine concentrations in the murine brain. The present method also captured the changes in cerebral glycine concentrations in mice with AD. Imaging the distribution of glycine concentrations in the brain can be useful in investigating and elucidating the pathological mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders.