The (Un)Conscious Mouse as a Model for Human Brain Functions: Key Principles of Anesthesia and Their Impact on Translational Neuroimaging

Henning M. Reimann, Thoralf Niendorf
2020 Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience  
In recent years, technical and procedural advances have brought functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to the field of murine neuroscience. Due to its unique capacity to measure functional activity non-invasively, across the entire brain, fMRI allows for the direct comparison of large-scale murine and human brain functions. This opens an avenue for bidirectional translational strategies to address fundamental questions ranging from neurological disorders to the nature of consciousness.
more » ... key challenges of murine fMRI are: (1) to generate and maintain functional brain states that approximate those of calm and relaxed human volunteers, while (2) preserving neurovascular coupling and physiological baseline conditions. Low-dose anesthetic protocols are commonly applied in murine functional brain studies to prevent stress and facilitate a calm and relaxed condition among animals. Yet, current mono-anesthesia has been shown to impair neural transmission and hemodynamic integrity. By linking the current state of murine electrophysiology, Ca2+ imaging and fMRI of anesthetic effects to findings from human studies, this systematic review proposes general principles to design, apply and monitor anesthetic protocols in a more sophisticated way. The further development of balanced multimodal anesthesia, combining two or more drugs with complementary modes of action helps to shape and maintain specific brain states and relevant aspects of murine physiology. Functional connectivity and its dynamic repertoire as assessed by fMRI can be used to make inferences about cortical states and provide additional information about whole-brain functional dynamics. Based on this, a simple and comprehensive functional neurosignature pattern can be determined for use in defining brain states and anesthetic depth in rest and in response to stimuli. Such a signature can be evaluated and shared between labs to indicate the brain state of a mouse during experiments, an important step toward translating findings across species.
doi:10.3389/fnsys.2020.00008 pmid:32508601 pmcid:PMC7248373 fatcat:eelkqgl3ybbchpbxeiamp54jea