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Longitudinal characterization of neuroanatomical changes in the Fischer 344 rat brain during normal aging and between sexes

By Caitlin F Fowler, Dana Alexander Goerzen, Dan Madularu, Gabriel A Devenyi, Jamie Near, Mallar Chakravarty

Posted 13 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.12.439510

Animal models are widely used to study the pathophysiology of disease and to evaluate the efficacy of novel interventions, crucial steps towards improving disease outcomes in humans. The Fischer 344 (F344) wildtype rat is a common experimental background strain for transgenic models of disease and is also one of the most frequently used models in aging research. Despite frequency of use, characterization of neuroanatomical change with age has not been performed in the F344 rat. To this end, we present a comprehensive longitudinal examination of morphometric change in 73 brain regions and at a voxel-wise level during normative aging in a mixed-sex cohort of F344 rats. We identified age- and sex-related changes in regions such as the cortex, hippocampus, cingulum, caudoputamen, and nucleus accumbens, which are implicated in memory and motor control circuits frequently affected by aging and neurodegenerative disease. These findings provide a baseline for neuroanatomical changes associated with aging in male and female F344 rats, to which data from transgenic models or other background strains can be compared.

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