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Structural and functional MRI of altered brain development in a novel adolescent rat model of quinpirole-induced compulsive checking behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TACTICS consortium

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume33
DOIs
PublishedApr 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is increasingly considered to be a neurodevelopmental disorder. However, despite insights in neural substrates of OCD in adults, less is known about mechanisms underlying compulsivity during brain development in children and adolescents. Therefore, we developed an adolescent rat model of compulsive checking behavior and investigated developmental changes in structural and functional measures in the frontostriatal circuitry. Five-weeks old Sprague Dawley rats were subcutaneously injected with quinpirole (n = 21) or saline (n = 20) twice a week for five weeks. Each injection was followed by placement in the middle of an open field table, and compulsive behavior was quantified as repeated checking behavior. Anatomical, resting-state functional and diffusion MRI at 4.7T were conducted before the first and after the last quinpirole/saline injection to measure regional volumes, functional connectivity and structural integrity in the brain, respectively. After consecutive quinpirole injections, adolescent rats demonstrated clear checking behavior and repeated travelling between two open-field zones. MRI measurements revealed an increase of regional volumes within the frontostriatal circuits and an increase in fractional anisotropy (FA) in white matter areas during maturation in both experimental groups. Quinpirole-injected rats showed a larger developmental increase in FA values in the internal capsule and forceps minor compared to control rats. Our study points toward a link between development of compulsive behavior and altered white matter maturation in quinpirole-injected adolescent rats, in line with observations in pediatric patients with compulsive phenotypes. This novel animal model provides opportunities to investigate novel treatments and underlying mechanisms for patients with early-onset OCD specifically.

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