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J Neurosci Methods. 1997 Mar;72(1):5-14.

T2 relaxation time as a marker of brain myelination: experimental MR study in two neonatal animal models.

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Laboratoire de Biophysique Cellulaire et RMN, INSERM U316-CNRS, Tours, France.


The progress of myelination in the brain was evaluated by visualization of grey/white matter differentiation on magnetic resonance (MR) images and quantitative analysis of MR data. In vivo quantitative MR imaging was used to monitor the T2 transverse relaxation time changes associated with cerebral development and myelination. The progress of myelination was evaluated using two neonatal animal models, the monkey and the dog, known to mature at very different rates. Three beagles were studied from birth to 4 months of age and nine baboons from 1 to 30 months of age. The T2 values in the frontal, parietal and occipital white matter were calculated and the changes in these values with age were followed. Brain maturation in both species was found to correspond to decreasing T2 values in both grey and white matter. This decrease was observed both in the dog brain and, despite slower maturation, in the baboon brain, and appeared to fit with the myelination process in these models. Exploiting the physicochemical parameters of water in tissues via T2 determination is a convenient and reliable strategy for the documentation of brain development in both experimental approaches and clinical situations.

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