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Magn Reson Med. 2005 Jun;53(6):1415-22.

Correlation of apparent myelin measures obtained in multiple sclerosis patients and controls from magnetization transfer and multicompartmental T2 analysis.

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NMR Research Unit, Department of Neuroinflammation, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, UK.


Two relatively new techniques purport to give measures of the myelin content of brain tissue. These measures are the myelin water fraction from multicompartmental T(2) analysis, and the semisolid proton fraction from analysis of magnetization transfer (MT). The myelin water fraction is the fraction of signal with a T(2) of less than 50 ms measured from a 32-echo sequence. It is believed to originate from water trapped between the myelin bilayers. The semisolid proton fraction is thought to include protons within phospholipid bilayers and macromolecular protons, and may also be a measure of myelin content. Multicompartmental T(2) and MT imaging were carried out on controls and patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and estimates of the semisolid proton and myelin water fractions were obtained from white matter (WM), gray matter (GM), and MS lesions. These were then correlated for each tissue and subject group. Positive correlations were seen for MS lesions (r approximately 0.2) and in WM in patients (r = 0.6). A negative correlation (r approximately -0.3) was seen for GM. These results indicate that the two techniques measure, to some extent, the same thing (most likely myelin content), but that other factors, such as inflammation, mean they may provide complementary information.

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