Age-Related Regional Network Covariance of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Gray Matter in the Rat

Gene E. Alexander, Lan Lin, Eriko S. Yoshimaru, Pradyumna K. Bharadwaj, Kaitlin L. Bergfield, Lan T. Hoang, Monica K. Chawla, Kewei Chen, James R. Moeller, Carol A. Barnes, Theodore P. Trouard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Healthy human aging has been associated with brain atrophy in prefrontal and selective temporal regions, but reductions in other brain areas have been observed. We previously found regional covariance patterns of gray matter with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in healthy humans and rhesus macaques, using multivariate network Scaled Subprofile Model (SSM) analysis and voxel-based morphometry (VBM), supporting aging effects including in prefrontal and temporal cortices. This approach has yet to be applied to neuroimaging in rodent models of aging. We investigated 7.0T MRI gray matter covariance in 10 young and 10 aged adult male Fischer 344 rats to identify, using SSM VBM, the age-related regional network gray matter covariance pattern in the rodent. SSM VBM identified a regional pattern that distinguished young from aged rats, characterized by reductions in prefrontal, temporal association/perirhinal, and cerebellar areas with relative increases in somatosensory, thalamic, midbrain, and hippocampal regions. Greater expression of the age-related MRI gray matter pattern was associated with poorer spatial learning in the age groups combined. Aging in the rat is characterized by a regional network pattern of gray matter reductions corresponding to aging effects previously observed in humans and non-human primates. SSM MRI network analyses can advance translational aging neuroscience research, extending from human to small animal models, with potential for evaluating mechanisms and interventions for cognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number267
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - Aug 26 2020


  • aging
  • behavior
  • perirhinal cortex
  • prefrontal cortex
  • scaled subprofile model
  • structural covariance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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