Cortical development in the mouse embryo involves complex changes in the microstructure of the telencephalic wall, which are challenging to examine using three-dimensional (3D) imaging techniques. In this study, high-resolution 3D diffusion magnetic resonance (dMR) microscopy of the embryonic mouse cortex is presented. Using diffusion-weighted gradient- and spin-echo based acquisition, dMR microimaging data were acquired from fixed mouse embryos at 7 developmental stages from embryonic day (E)12.5 to E18.5. The dMR imaging (dMRI) contrasts revealed microscopic structural detail in the mouse telencephalic wall, allowing delineation of transient zones in the developing cortex based on their unique diffusion signatures. With the high-resolution 3D data of the mouse embryo, we were able to visualize the complex microstructure of embryonic cerebral tissue and to resolve its regional and temporal evolution during cortical formation. Furthermore, averaged dMRI contrasts generated via deformable registration revealed distinct spatial and temporal gradients of anisotropy variation across the developing embryonic cortical plate and the ventricular zone. The findings of this study demonstrate the potential of 3D dMRI to resolve the complex microstructure of the embryonic mouse cortex, and will be important for investigations of corticogenesis and its disruption in embryonic mouse models.
- diffusion MRI
- mouse embryo