Submitted by on Thu, 11/12/2020 - 11:46
Genome-wide association studies have demonstrated significant links between human brain structure and common DNA variants. Similar studies with rodents have been challenging because of smaller brain volumes. Using high field MRI (9.4 T) and compressed sensing, we have achieved microscopic resolution and sufficiently high throughput for rodent population studies. We generated whole brain structural MRI and diffusion connectomes for four diverse isogenic lines of mice (C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, CAST/EiJ, and BTBR) at spatial resolution 20,000 times higher than human connectomes. We measured narrow sense heritability (h2) I.e. the fraction of variance explained by strains in a simple ANOVA model for volumes and scalar diffusion metrics, and estimates of residual technical error for 166 regions in each hemisphere and connectivity between the regions. Volumes of discrete brain regions had the highest mean heritability (0.71 ± 0.23 SD, n = 332), followed by fractional anisotropy (0.54 ± 0.26), radial diffusivity (0.34 ± 0.022), and axial diffusivity (0.28 ± 0.19). Connection profiles were statistically different in 280 of 322 nodes across all four strains. Nearly 150 of the connection profiles were statistically different between the C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, and CAST/EiJ lines. Microscopic whole brain MRI/DTI has allowed us to identify significant heritable phenotypes in brain volume, scalar DTI metrics, and quantitative connectomes. NeuroScience Publication Volume 222, 15 November 2020, 117274


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