This work showcases two long running projects initiated through the National Imaging Facility (www.anif.org.au) at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). One, on preeclampsia, is in collaboration with the UWS School of Medicine (Annemarie Hennessy and Gabriele Bobek) and the other, an application of MRI to evolutionary biology, is in collaboration with the ANU Research School of Biology (Scott Keogh and Daniel Hoops).
Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition suffered by some pregnant women and is characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine as well as other symptoms. High resolution magnetic resonance imaging was used to examine placental changes in vivo in mouse models of preeclampsia. In particular, strong T2 contrast between distinct placental regions, which vanished upon cessation of blood flow brought about by overdose of the anaesthetic isoflurane, was observed. We believe the alterations in relaxation times can be explained by hypoxia and acidosis in the tissue and investigations are ongoing to confirm this . Work is now continuing on the construction of a placental atlas.
The aim of the lizard project is to characterise the changes in brain volume and morphology associated with varying intensities of sexual and natural selection and further develop novel methods for more efficiently imaging brains ex vivo. Australian agamid lizards are a closely related group exhibiting a variety of social behaviours. The species are selected based on the contrast in territorial behaviours amongst closely related taxa. We are comparing not only total brain and telencephalic volume, but the volume of the various lizard brain lobes, such as the frontal, parietal, and cerebellar lobes.