Brain imaging is a key technology in basic and clinical stroke research. A strong focus of the CSB has been to develop and implement state-of-the-art brain imaging methodologies for use in experimental stroke models and in patients.

Experimental Stroke Models

Brain imaging in small animals is used by CSB scientists to study stroke pathophysiology and obtain pathobiological “fingerprints” for translational studies using the same or equivalent imaging technologies in humans. The Small Animal Imaging Center (SAIC) at the Charité provides a suite of noninvasive rodent brain imaging modalities ranging from non-invasive high resolution imaging of morphology (magnetic resonance imaging, MR; computed tomography, CT), to non-invasive in vivo biochemistry (near infrared fluorescence, NIRF; fluorescence mediated tomography, FMT; Positron Emission Tomography, PET; Single Photon Emission Tomography, SPECT). This complements the 7T Bruker Pharmascan MR which is operated by the CSB.

Imaging Strategies

Neuroimaging is the main diagnostic tool in stroke, and pivotal for translation, as the same modalities (e.g., MRI, SPECT, PET) can be used in preclinical stroke models and patients. To this end, the CSB has implemented an array of interlinked structures, spanning from the Small Animal Imaging Center (SAIC) to the human 3T MRI scanner on the stroke unit. Together, CSB researchers and clinicians have established novel imaging strategies and investigated mechanisms of brain damage and ways to intercept them, for example:

  • mechanisms of blood brain barrier (BBB) impairment after stroke in mice and the role of inflammation in this process

  • imaging of BBB disruption and inflammation after experimental stroke using iron nanoparticles was explored with MRI

  • imaging specifically ischemic cell death with optical, nuclear, or MRI imaging  

A particular focus of the imaging activities in the CSB has been on validating and improving the so-called “mismatch concept”, which in most clinical applications relies on perfusion-weighted (PW) and diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI to stratify patients to brain protective therapies or to prognosticate final damage (i.e. infarction). For example, 

  • the 1000Plus study was established to define the prognostic accuracy of the mismatch concept in stroke MRI with respect to vessel status and delay between symptom onset and MRI examination
  • the WAKE-UP study - a European multicenter randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness and safety of MRI-based thrombolysis in patients with unknown symptom onset - is conducted in cooperation with the University of Hamburg (UKE). The study is coordinated by the UKE Hamburg and the CSB coordinates the sites in Germany.
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