High field intensity magnetic resonance imaging (HF-MRI) has been applied to the in vivo study of age-related processes of organs located in the cervical-thoracic region in mice and to describe the effects of oral zinc supplementation on these processes. Spin-echo (SE) pulse sequence and chemical shift imaging (CSI) techniques have been used. Aging produced a progressive reduction of muscular masses and of thymic area, whereas the HF-MRI appearances of spinal cord and of salivary glands were unchanged. In some aged animals, subcutaneous fat was reduced while visceral fat was well developed. In the group of old animals supplemented with zinc sulphate, muscular masses were more developed than that of the group of untreated old animals. Oral zinc supplementation also produced an enlargement of the adipose tissue and the thymic area showed an increase of about 65% compared with thymic area measured in the group of old animals used as controls. The present study confirms previous data about the effects of Zn supplementation on aging processes and demonstrates that HF-MRI is a powerful technique to study processes of aging, providing information about the effects of drug treatments on these processes.
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