Prediction of Stroke Outcome in Mice Based on Noninvasive MRI and Behavioral Testing.

Knab F, Koch SP, Major S, Farr TD, Mueller S, Euskirchen P, Eggers M, Kuffner MTC, Walter J, Berchtold D, Knauss S, Dreier JP, Meisel A, Endres M, Dirnagl U, Wenger N, Hoffmann CJ, Boehm-Sturm P*, Harms C*.



Prediction of poststroke outcome using the degree of subacute deficit or magnetic resonance imaging is well studied in humans. While mice are the most commonly used animals in preclinical stroke research, systematic analysis of outcome predictors is lacking.


We intended to incorporate heterogeneity into our retrospective study to broaden the applicability of our findings and prediction tools. We therefore analyzed the effect of 30, 45, and 60 minutes of arterial occlusion on the variance of stroke volumes. Next, we built a heterogeneous cohort of 215 mice using data from 15 studies that included 45 minutes of middle cerebral artery occlusion and various genotypes. Motor function was measured using a modified protocol for the staircase test of skilled reaching. Phases of subacute and residual deficit were defined. Magnetic resonance images of stroke lesions were coregistered on the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas to characterize stroke topology. Different random forest prediction models that either used motor-functional deficit or imaging parameters were generated for the subacute and residual deficits.


Variance of stroke volumes was increased by 45 minutes of arterial occlusion compared with 60 minutes. The inclusion of various genotypes enhanced heterogeneity further. We detected both a subacute and residual motor-functional deficit after stroke in mice and different recovery trajectories could be observed. In mice with small cortical lesions, lesion volume was the best predictor of the subacute deficit. The residual deficit could be predicted most accurately by the degree of the subacute deficit. When using imaging parameters for the prediction of the residual deficit, including information about the lesion topology increased prediction accuracy. A subset of anatomic regions within the ischemic lesion had particular impact on the prediction of long-term outcomes. Prediction accuracy depended on the degree of functional impairment.


For the first time, we developed and validated a robust tool for the prediction of functional outcomes after experimental stroke in mice using a large and genetically heterogeneous cohort. These results are discussed in light of study design and imaging limitations. In the future, using outcome prediction can improve the design of preclinical studies and guide intervention decisions.

Summary: Systematic analysis of stroke outcome predictors in mice is lacking. We developed a tool to predict late pellet reaching performance based on early stroke localization in a diverse cohort of 215 mice.

Published: Sep 2023