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Neuroimage Clin. 2012 Oct 5;1(1):121-30. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2012.09.013. eCollection 2012.

Multicentre absolute myelin water content mapping: Development of a whole brain atlas and application to low-grade multiple sclerosis.

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Multimodal Imaging Physics Group, University of Applied Sciences Koblenz, RheinAhrCampus Remagen, 53424 Remagen, Germany ; Institute for Medical Engineering and Information Processing, MTI Mittelrhein, University of Koblenz, 56070 Koblenz, Germany.


The current study investigates the whole brain myelin water content distribution applying a new approach that allows for the simultaneous mapping of total and relative myelin water content, T 1 and T 2* with full brain coverage and high resolution (1 × 1 × 2 mm(3)). The data was collected at two different sites in healthy controls to validate the independence of a specific setup. In addition, a group of patients with known white matter affections was investigated to compare two measures of myelin, i.e. relative and absolute myelin water content. Based on the first dataset, a quantitative myelin water content atlas was created which served as a control set for the other two datasets. Both control groups measured at different institutions yielded consistent results. However, distinct regions of reduced myelin water content were observed for the patient dataset, both on an individual basis and in a group-wise comparison. The comparison between the absolute and relative measurement of myelin water content in MS patients showed that the relative measurement, which is employed by many researchers, overestimates both disease volume and the corresponding reduction of myelin water content in white matter lesions. However, for normal appearing white matter, no difference between both approaches was detected. The results obtained in the current study demonstrate that absolute myelin water content can reliably be determined in a multicentre environment using standard MR sequences. The optimised protocol allows for a measurement of four quantitative parameters with full brain coverage in only 10 min. This might expedite a more widespread future use of quantitative MRI methods for clinical research and diagnosis.


Absolute water content; Multiple sclerosis; Myelin imaging; Quantitative MRI; Quantitative brain atlas

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