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Front Med (Lausanne)


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Pituitary tumor in patients induces adverse alterations in the brain, accompanied by cognitive deficits. Dysfunction of glymphatic waste clearance results in accumulation of neurotoxic products within the brain, leading to cognitive impairment. However, the status of glymphatic function in the brain with pituitary tumor is unknown. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and an advanced mathematical modeling, we investigated the changes of glymphatic transport in the rats carrying spontaneous pituitary tumor.

METHODS: Rats (22-24 months, female, Wistar) with and without pituitary tumor (n = 7/per group) underwent the identical experimental protocol. MRI measurements, including T2-weighted imaging and dynamic 3D T1-weighted imaging with intracisternal administration of contrast agent, were performed on each animal. The contrast-induced enhancement in the circle of Willis and in the glymphatic influx nodes were observed on the dynamic images and verified with time-signal-curves (TSCs). Model-derived parameters of infusion rate and clearance rate that characterize the kinetics of glymphatic tracer transport were evaluated in multiple representative brain regions.

RESULTS: Our imaging data demonstrated a higher incidence of partially enhanced circle of Willis (86 vs. 14%; p < 0.033) and a lower incidence of enhancement in glymphatic influx nodes of pituitary (71 vs. 100%) and pineal (57 vs. 86%) recesses in the rats with pituitary tumor than in the rats with normal appearance of pituitary gland, indicating an intensification of impaired peri-vascular pathway and impeded glymphatic transport due to the presence of pituitary tumor. Consistently, our kinetic modeling and regional cerebral tissue quantification revealed significantly lower infusion and clearance rates in all examined regions in rats with spontaneous pituitary tumor than in non-tumor rats, representing a suppressed glymphatic transport in the brain with pituitary tumor.

CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates the compromised glymphatic transport in the rat brain with spontaneous pituitary tumor. The reduced efficiency in cerebral waste clearance increases the risk for neurodegeneration in the brain that may underlie the cognitive impairment commonly seen in patients with pituitary tumors.

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