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Magn Reson Imaging. 1998 Dec;16(10):1163-9.

Reduced MTR in the corticospinal tract and normal T2 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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Department of Radiology, NYU Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that magnetization transfer ratios (MTR) are decreased in the corticospinal tract of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); to determine if T2 is increased in corticospinal tract or reduced in motor cortex in ALS; to determine if corticospinal tract MTR correlates with a clinical measure of motor neuron function in ALS. Ten ALS patients and 17 age-matched controls were studied. Double spin echo MRI and 3D gradient echo MRI with and without off-resonance saturation were acquired on each subject. 3D data sets were coregistered and resliced to match the spin echo data set. MTR was calculated for corticospinal and non-corticospinal tract white matter. T2 was calculated for corticospinal and non-corticospinal tract white matter, motor cortex and non-motor cortex. MTR was reduced by 2.6% (p < .02) in corticospinal, but not in non-corticospinal, tract white matter in ALS. There was no difference in T2 in any brain region. The correlation between a clinical measure of motor neuron function and corticospinal tract MTR was statistically significant. These findings are consistent with the known pathology in ALS and suggest that MTR is more sensitive than T2 for detecting involvement of the corticospinal tract. Quantitative MTR of the corticospinal tract may be a useful, objective marker of upper motor neuron pathology in ALS.

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