Quantitative magnetization transfer and myelin water imaging of the evolution of acute multiple sclerosis lesions
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Quantitative magnetization transfer imaging provides in vivo estimates of liquid and semisolid constituents of tissue, while estimates of the liquid subpopulations, including myelin water, can be obtained from multicomponent T(2) analysis. Both methods have been suggested to provide improved myelin specificity compared to conventional MRI. The goal of this study was to investigate the sensitivity of each technique to the progression of acute, gadolinium-enhancing regions of multiple sclerosis. Magnetization transfer and T(2) relaxometry data were acquired longitudinally over the course of 1 year in five relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients and in five healthy controls. Parametric maps were analyzed in enhancing lesions and normal-appearing white matter regions. Quantitative magnetization transfer parameters in lesions were most abnormal at the time of enhancement and followed a pattern of recovery over subsequent months. Lesion myelin water fraction was abnormal but did not show a significant trend over time. Quantitative magnetization transfer was able to track the degree and timing of the partial recovery in enhancing multiple sclerosis lesions in a small group of patients, while the recovery was not detected in myelin water estimates, possibly due to their large variability. Our data suggest the recovery is characterized by quick resolution of inflammation and a slower remyelination process.
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