Functional connectivity under six anesthesia protocols and the awake condition in rat brain

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Abstract

Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) is a translational imaging method with great potential in several neurobiologic applications. Most preclinical rsfMRI studies are performed in anesthetized animals, but the confounding effects of anesthesia on the measured functional connectivity (FC) are poorly understood. Therefore, we measured FC under six commonly used anesthesia protocols and compared the findings with data obtained from awake rats. The results demonstrated that each anesthesia protocol uniquely modulated FC. Connectivity patterns obtained under propofol and urethane anesthesia were most similar to that observed in awake rats. FC patterns in the α-chloralose and isoflurane-medetomidine combination groups had moderate to good correspondence with that in the awake group. The FC patterns in the isoflurane and medetomidine groups differed most from that in the awake rats. These results can be directly exploited in rsfMRI study designs to improve the data quality, comparability, and interpretation.

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