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An efficient investigation of the effects of genetic or environmental manipulation on mouse development relies on the rapid and accurate screening of a substantial number of embryos for congenital malformations. Here we demonstrate that it is possible to examine normal organ development and identify malformations in mouse embryos by magnetic resonance microscopy in a substantially shorter time than by conventional histology. We imaged embryos in overnight runs of under 9 h, with an operator time of less than 1 h. In normal embryos we visualized the brain, spinal cord, ganglia, eyes, inner ear, pituitary, thyroid, thymus, trachea, bronchi, lungs, heart, kidneys, gonads, adrenals, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, spleen, liver and pancreas. Examination of the brain in embryos lacking the transcriptional coactivator Cited2 showed cerebellar and midbrain roof agenesis, in addition to exencephaly. In these embryos we were also able to detect agenesis of the adrenal gland. We confirmed all malformations by histological sectioning. Thus magnetic resonance microscopy can be used to rapidly identify developmental and organ malformations in mutant mouse embryos generated by transgenic techniques, in high-throughput mutagenesis screens, or in screens to identify teratogenic compounds and environmental factors contributing to developmental malformations.

Original publication




Journal article


J Anat

Publication Date





239 - 247


Adrenal Glands, Animals, Brain, Embryo, Mammalian, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mice, Mice, Transgenic