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Magn Reson Med. 2018 Nov;80(5):2094-2108. doi: 10.1002/mrm.27188. Epub 2018 Mar 25.

Quantifying myofiber integrity using diffusion MRI and random permeable barrier modeling in skeletal muscle growth and Duchenne muscular dystrophy model in mice.

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Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research (CAI2R), New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.



To measure the microstructural changes during skeletal muscle growth and progressive pathologies using the random permeable model with diffusion MRI, and compare findings to conventional imaging modalities such as three-point Dixon and T2 imaging.


In vivo and ex vivo DTI experiments with multiple diffusion times (20-700 ms) were completed on wild-type (n = 22) and muscle-dystrophic mdx mice (n = 8) at various developmental time points. The DTI data were analyzed with the random permeable model framework that provides estimates of the unrestricted diffusion coefficient (D0 ), membrane surface-to-volume ratio (S/V), and membrane permeability (κ). In addition, the MRI experiments included conventional measures, such as tissue fat fractions and T2 relaxation.


During normal muscle growth between week 4 and week 13, the in vivo S/V, fractional anisotropy, and fat fraction correlated positively with age (ρ = 0.638, 0.664, and 0.686, respectively), whereas T2 correlated negatively (ρ = -0.847). In mdx mice, all DTI random permeable model parameters and fat fraction had significant positive correlation with age, whereas fractional anisotropy and T2 did not have significant correlation with age. Histological measurements of the perimeter-to-area ratio served as a proxy for the model-derived S/V in the cylindrical myofiber geometry, and had a significant correlation with the ex vivo S/V (r = 0.71) as well as the in vivo S/V (r = 0.56).


The present study demonstrates that DTI at multiple diffusion times with the random permeable model analysis allows for noninvasively quantifying muscle fiber microstructural changes during both normal muscle growth and disease progression. Future studies can apply our technique to evaluate current and potential treatments to muscle myopathies.


diffusion tensor imaging; diffusion time; random permeable barrier model; sarcolemma permeability; surface-to-volume ratio

[Available on 2019-11-01]

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