by Peter Vestergaard-Poulsen, Gregers Wegener, Brian Hansen, Carsten R. Bjarkam, Stephen J. Blackband, Niels C. Nielsen, Sune N. Jespersen
Chronic stress has detrimental effects on physiology, learning and memory and is involved in the development of anxiety and depressive disorders. Besides changes in synaptic formation and neurogenesis, chronic stress also induces dendritic remodeling in the hippocampus, amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Investigations of dendritic remodeling during development and treatment of stress are currently limited by the invasive nature of histological and stereological methods. Here we show that high field diffusion-weighted MRI combined with quantitative biophysical modeling of the hippocampal dendritic loss in 21 day restraint stressed rats highly correlates with former histological findings. Our study strongly indicates that diffusion-weighted MRI is sensitive to regional dendritic loss and thus a promising candidate for non-invasive studies of dendritic plasticity in chronic stress and stress-related disorders.