Detection of endophenotypes associated with neuropsychiatric deficiencies in a mouse model of tuberous sclerosis complex using diffusion tensor imaging

Christine Chin jung Hsieh, Yu Chun Lo, Ssu Ju Li, Ting Chun Lin, Ching Wen Chang, Ting Chieh Chen, Shih Hung Yang, Yi Chao Lee, You Yin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare hereditary disease, which results from the mutation of either TSC1 or TSC2, and its clinical features include benign tumors and dysfunctions in numerous organs, including the brain. Many individuals with TSC manifest neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as learning impairments, cognitive deficits and anxiety. Current pharmacological treatment for TSC is the use of mTOR inhibitors. However, they are not effective in treating neuropsychiatric symptoms. We previously used curcumin, a diet-derived mTOR inhibitor, which possesses both anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative properties, to improve learning and memory deficits in Tsc2+/− mice. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides microstructural information in brain tissue and has been used to study the neuropathological changes in TSC. In this study, we confirmed that the impaired recognition memory and increased anxiety-like behavior in Tsc2+/− mice can be reversed by curcumin treatment. Second, we found altered fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus of the Tsc2+/− mice, which may indicate altered circuitry. Finally, the mTOR complex 1 hyperactivity was found in the cortex and hippocampus, coinciding with abnormal cortical myelination and increased glial fibrillary acidic protein expression in the hippocampal CA1 of Tsc2+/− mice, both of which can be rescued with curcumin treatment. Overall, DTI is sensitive to the subtle alterations that cannot be detected by conventional imaging, suggesting that noninvasive DTI may be suitable for longitudinally monitoring the in vivo neuropathology associated with the neuropsychiatric symptoms in TSC, thereby facilitating future clinical trials of pharmacological treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-19
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • anxiety
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • curcumin
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • fractional anisotropy
  • mTOR
  • tuberous sclerosis complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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