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Magn Reson Med. 2002 Jul;48(1):71-81.

Changes in axonal morphology in experimental autoimmune neuritis as studied by high b-value q-space (1)H and (2)H DQF diffusion magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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School of Chemistry, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Experimental autoimmune neuritis (EAN) has been studied in rat sciatic nerves by a combination of high b-value (1)H and (2)H double quantum filtered (DQF) diffusion MRS. The signal decays of water in the (1)H and (2)H DQF diffusion MRS were found to be not monoexponential and were analyzed using the q-space approach. The q-space analysis of the (1)H diffusion data detected two diffusing components, one having broad and the other having narrow displacement profiles. These components were shown to be very sensitive to the progression of EAN disease. The q-space parameters were found to be abnormal at day 9 postimmunization before the appearance of clinical signs. The assignment of the component with the narrow displacement profile to axonal water has been corroborated by the (2)H DQF diffusion MRS results. The displacement and the relative population of this slow and restricted diffusing component followed the processes of demyelination, axonal loss, and remyelination that occur in EAN. The displacements extracted from the slow-diffusing component with the narrow displacement correlated well with the average size of the axons as deduced from electron microscopy (EM). The component with the broad displacement showed significant changes which were attributed to the formation of endoneurial edema. This observation was also corroborated by the (2)H DQF diffusion MRS experiments. It seems, therefore, that q-space analysis of high b-values diffusion MRS is a promising new approach for early detection and better characterization of the different pathologies associated with EAN. This study demonstrates the utility of high-b-value q-space diffusion MRS for studying white matter-associated disorders in general.

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