Manganese ion (Mn2+) is a calcium (Ca2+) analog that can enter neurons and other excitable cells through voltage gated Ca2+ channels. Mn2+ is also a paramagnetic that shortens the spin-lattice relaxation time constant (T1) of tissues where it has accumulated, resulting in positive contrast enhancement. Mn2+ was first investigated as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent approximately 20 years ago to assess the toxicity of the metal in rats. In the late 1990s, Alan Koretsky and colleagues pioneered the use of manganese enhanced MRI (MEMRI) towards studying brain activity, tract tracing and enhancing anatomical detail. This review will describe the methodologies and applications of MEMRI in the following areas: monitoring brain activity in animal models, in vivo neuronal tract tracing and using MEMRI to assess in vivo axonal transport rates.
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston