In vivo evaluation of remyelination in rat brain by magnetization transfer imaging

J Neurol Sci. 2000 Sep 1;178(1):10-6. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(00)00331-2.


The aim of this work was to assess quantitatively and qualitatively the ability of magnetization transfer imaging to follow in vivo remyelination. Demyelination lesions were induced in rats by the injection of L-alpha-lysophosphatidylcholine stearoyl into the corpus callosum and imaging was performed in vivo on a 4.7-Tesla system at different time points. The percentage of magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) decrease was calculated for each animal. To evaluate the MTR findings for remyelination, myelin was quantitated by histological analysis of the lesion size and counting the number of remyelinating axons. An MTR decrease was observed when demyelination was present at 7 days after injection. During the remyelinating phase between day 30 and 40 after injection, contralateral values almost complete returned to normal, thus indicating remyelination. Histologically, at days 30 and 40 after injection, the lesion area was reduced in size and the axons were surrounded by a thin myelin sheath, indicating the remyelination process. Statistical analysis showed that the profile of MTR values was significantly correlated with the course of remyelination. All the MTR changes show a correlation with both myelin damage and repair. In conclusion, the study of the MTR profile in this myelin lesion model demonstrates in vivo the loss of myelin and the presence of spontaneous remyelination. This methodological approach which can also be applied to multiple sclerosis patients to show demyelination, should prove helpful to determine the degree of spontaneous and therapeutically induced remyelination in multiple sclerosis lesions, and thus to validate therapeutic treatments for myelin repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Callosum / injuries
  • Corpus Callosum / metabolism
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology*
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology*
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Lysophosphatidylcholines