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Simultaneous measurement of cerebral blood flow and mRNA signals: pixel-based inter-modality correlational analysis.

Zhao, W.Z., Busto, R., Truettner, J. and Ginsberg, M.D.

Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 108(2), 161-170 (2001).

The analysis of pixel-based relationships between local cerebral blood flow (LCBF) and mRNA expression can reveal important insights into brain function. Traditionally, LCBF and in situ hybridization studies for genes of interest have been analyzed in separate series. To overcome this limitation and to increase the power of statistical analysis, this study focused on developing a double-label method to measure local cerebral blood flow (LCBF) and gene expressions simultaneously by means of a dual-autoradiography procedure. A C-14-iodoantipyrine autoradiographic LCBF study was first performed. Serial brain sections (12 in this study) were obtained at multiple coronal levels and were processed in the conventional manner to yield quantitative LCBF images. Two replicate sections at each bregma level were then used for in situ hybridization. To eliminate the C-14-iodoantipyrine from these sections, a chloroform-washout procedure was first performed. The sections were then processed for in situ hybridization autoradiography for the probes of interest. This method was tested in Wistar rats subjected to 12 min of global forebrain ischemia by two-vessel occlusion plus hypotension, followed by 2 or 6 h of reperfusion (n = 4-6 per group). LCBF and in situ hybridization images for heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) were generated for each rat, aligned by disparity analysis, and analyzed on a pixel-by-pixel basis. This method yielded detailed inter-modality correlation between LCBF and HSP70 mRNA expressions. The advantages of this method include reducing the number of experimental animals by one-half; and providing accurate pixel-based correlations between different modalities in the same animals, thus enabling paired statistical analyses. This method can be extended to permit correlation of LCBF with the expression of multiple genes of interest.