The experimental magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lab is located at the Charité Core Facility "7 T experimental MRIs". It is supplied with two 7 T small animal MRI machines including a cryogenically cooled probehead for very sensitive imaging.
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The group is dedicated to the development of MRI methods and novel postprocessing strategies in rodents. Most research focuses on models of neurological deficits, e.g. transient or chronic hypoperfusion in the mouse. The latter is a model of vascular cognitive impairment, for which we develop diffusion tensor imaging paired with graph analysis to detect very subtle structural changes in white matter. Quantification of metabolite concentrations via proton MR spectroscopy and subsequent data fitting serves as a functional readout. Structural and functional MR biomarkers are then correlated with behavioral scores.
Currently, we develop a fluorine (19F) MRI-based sensor of partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) in brain tissue. This will allow us to noninvasively determine whether hypoperfused tissue is below the threshold of hypoxia. In order to better characterize the perfusion deficit we are working on a technique called "resting state perfusion MRI" in close collaboration with the clinical stroke MRI unit of the Charité (Jochen B. Fiebach).
Vessel pruning and restoration of perfusion through collateral network formation is assessed through vessel size imaging (VSI), which measures changes in R2 and R2* relaxivities in tissue due to intravascular contrast agent. Mathematical modeling and computer simulations yield a set of relations between MRI signal and distinct features of the vascular network, such as mean vessel diameter and density. We aim to speed-up animal and clinical protocols in collaboration with the Charité stroke MRI unit and theorists from the University hospital in Freiburg, e.g. by developing a mathematical model of MRI signal in vasculature for fast imaging sequences.