Diffusion MRI and MR spectroscopy reveal microstructural and metabolic brain alterations in chronic mild stress exposed rats: A CMS recovery study

Ahmad Raza Khan, Brian Hansen, Ove Wiborg, Christopher D. Kroenke, Sune Nørhøj Jespersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Chronic mild stress (CMS) induced depression elicits several debilitating symptoms and causes a significant economic burden on society. High variability in the symptomatology of depression poses substantial impediment to accurate diagnosis and therapy outcome. CMS exposure induces significant metabolic and microstructural alterations in the hippocampus (HP), prefrontal cortex (PFC), caudate-putamen (CP) and amygdala (AM), however, recovery from these maladaptive changes are limited and this may provide negative effects on the therapeutic treatment and management of depression. The present study utilized anhedonic rats from the unpredictable CMS model of depression to study metabolic recovery in the ventral hippocampus (vHP) and microstructural recovery in the HP, AM, CP, and PFC. The study employed 1H MR spectroscopy (1H MRS) and in-vivo diffusion MRI (d-MRI) at the age of week 18 (week 1 post CMS exposure) week 20 (week 3 post CMS) and week 25 (week 8 post CMS exposure) in the anhedonic group, and at the age of week 18 and week 22 in the control group. The d-MRI data have provided an array of diffusion tensor metrics (FA, MD, AD, and RD), and fast kurtosis metrics (MKT, WL and WT). CMS exposure induced a significant metabolic alteration in vHP, and significant microstructural alterations were observed in the HP, AM, and PFC in comparison to the age match control and within the anhedonic group. A significantly high level of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) was observed in vHP at the age of week 18 in comparison to age match control and week 20 and week 25 of the anhedonic group. HP and AM showed significant microstructural alterations up to the age of week 22 in the anhedonic group. PFC showed significant microstructural alterations only at the age of week 18, however, most of the metrics showed significantly higher value at the age of week 20 in the anhedonic group. The significantly increased NAA concentration may indicate impaired catabolism due to astrogliosis or oxidative stress. The significantly increased WL in the AM and HP may indicate hypertrophy of AM and reduced volume of HP. Such metabolic and microstructural alterations could be useful in disease diagnosis and follow-up treatment intervention in depression and similar disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-353
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Feb 15 2018


  • Amygdala
  • Chronic mild stress
  • Diffusion MRI
  • H MRS
  • Hippocampus
  • Kurtosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Diffusion MRI and MR spectroscopy reveal microstructural and metabolic brain alterations in chronic mild stress exposed rats: A CMS recovery study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this