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Evaluation of Quantitative Imaging Biomarkers in the DSS Colitis Model

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In humans, colonoscopy is the gold standard for the diagnosis of inflammatory changes of the colon wall. Aim of this study was the identification of less invasive imaging biomarkers in the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) colitis model to provide additional information on transmural changes of the colon wall.


Colitis was induced in C57BL/6 mice by administration of 2, 3, and 4 % DSS over a period of 5 days. Colon wall thickness was measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound (US), and x-ray computed tomography (CT), gut inflammation by positron emission tomography/CT, and mucosal changes of the colon wall by colonoscopy. Colon samples were examined histologically.


MRI, CT, US, and histological data revealed increased colon wall thickness in DSS-treated mice compared to healthy controls. Elevated 2-deoxy-2[18F]fluoro-d-glucose uptake and colonoscopy confirmed high inflammatory load in the guts of colitis mice.


The established quantitative imaging readouts offer promising perspectives to develop new compounds and to translate these methods into the clinical setting.

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Computed tomography


Magnetic resonance imaging


Positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography


Ultrasound imaging


Single photon emission computed tomography




Dextran sodium sulfate


Inflammatory bowel disease


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We thank Andrea Vögtle, David Kind, and Michael Neumaier for excellent technical assistance and Anna-Lena Martin for statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Detlef Stiller.

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All the authors are employees of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. K and declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Beltzer, A., Kaulisch, T., Bluhmki, T. et al. Evaluation of Quantitative Imaging Biomarkers in the DSS Colitis Model. Mol Imaging Biol 18, 697–704 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11307-016-0937-x

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Key words

  • DSS
  • Mouse model
  • Colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Multimodal imaging