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J Neuroimaging. 2005;15(4 Suppl):58S-67S.

Magnetization transfer imaging in multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Cardiology, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW, UK.


Magnetization transfer (MT) is a relatively new way of generating contrast in magnetic resonance (MR) images that is sensitive to the density of the macromolecules found throughout tissue structures such as membranes, myelin, and organelles. MT imaging (MTI) can provide a quantitative measure of macromolecular density, and therefore of tissue damage, and has been applied in the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other diseases. This article introduces the contrast mechanisms behind MTI and gives some practical guidance about implementing MTI and about quantitative analysis of the MT scans. An overview of MT measurements made in animal studies, in postmortem tissue samples, and in other demyelinating diseases attempts to rationalize the pathological basis of changes in MT contrast in MS. The application of MTI to MS is reviewed, with emphasis on the contribution that MTI has made to the current understanding of the MS disease process, both its natural history and the response to treatment. The pathological basis of abnormal MT contrast is still open to debate, with many conflicting reports; indeed, it is unlikely that a simple measure of MT effect will reveal the details of pathology that is a combination of inflammation, demyelination, remyelination, and axonal loss. There is no doubt, however, that MT measurements have contributed to the current understanding of both disease progression and the response to treatment and will prove to be a valuable tool in the future, particularly if more refined techniques can be applied practically in multicenter studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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