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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2001 Sep;22(8):1462-7.

Correlation of multiple sclerosis measures derived from T2-weighted, T1-weighted, magnetization transfer, and diffusion tensor MR imaging.

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Neuroimaging Research Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.



In multiple sclerosis (MS), the severity of tissue damage can vary from edema and inflammation to irreversible demyelination and axonal loss. Compared with conventional T2-weighted MR imaging, magnetization transfer (MT) and diffusion tensor (DT) MR imaging provide quantitative indices with increased specificity to the most destructive aspects of MS. To increase our understanding of the pathophysiologic processes of MS, we assessed the correlations between MT and DT MR imaging-derived metrics and the correlations between these quantities and measures derived from conventional MR in patients with MS.


T2-weighted, T1-weighted, MT, and DT MR images of the brain were obtained from 34 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and 15 age-matched control subjects. T2 and T1 lesion volumes (LV) and brain volume were measured. MT ratio (MTR), mean diffusivity (D macro), and fractional anisotropy (FA) histograms from the overall brain tissue (BT) and the normal-appearing brain tissue (NABT) were obtained. Average lesion MTR, D macro, and FA were also calculated. The correlations between T2 and T1 LV, brain volume, MT-, and DT-derived metrics were assessed with the Spearman rank correlation coefficient.


No significant correlations were found between MT and FA histogram-derived metrics and quantities derived from conventional MR scans (T2 and T1 LV and brain volume). On the contrary, T2 and T1 LV (but not brain volume) were significantly correlated with the average D macro values of BT and NABT (r values ranging from 0.52 to 0.78). No significant correlation was found between MT- and DT-derived metrics.


These results suggest that MT and DT MR imaging provide, at least partially, independent measures of lesion burden in patients with RRMS. This suggests that a multiparametric MR approach has the potential for increasing our ability to monitor MS evolution.

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