Purpose: The purpose of this work was to characterize magnetization transfer (MT) contrast of skeletal muscles in limb girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD).
Method: The calf muscles of five LGMD patients and 10 normal volunteers were imaged with an off-resonance MT suppression pulse applied to T1-weighted images. MT suppression ratios were calculated for anterior tibialis, posterior tibialis, soleus, and gastrocnemius muscles in the LGMD and control groups. The relationship between MT of individual muscles and the duration of LGMD symptoms was determined.
Results: Strong MT contrast was observed in normal calf muscles, with mean (+/-SD) suppression ratios ranging from 37.9% (+/-3.0) to 41.1% (+/-2.1). In diseased muscle, MT signal suppression ranged from 11 to 38%, demonstrating an inverse relationship between symptom duration and suppression ratios. MT contrast in the LGMD patients, as a reflection of muscle tissue integrity, was preserved in posterior or anterior tibialis, soleus, and gastrocnemius muscles, respectively. Suppression ratios were dramatically reduced in muscles with gross fatty infiltration but also were reduced in muscle tissues without visual evidence of fatty infiltration.
Conclusion: MT imaging provides a quantitative measure of pathologic changes occurring within the skeletal muscles of patients with LGMD relative to normal and may be useful in evaluating disease extent, progression, and response to new therapies as they become available.