Detection of cerebral involvement in patients with active neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus by the use of volumetric magnetization transfer imaging

Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Nov;43(11):2428-36. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200011)43:11<2428::AID-ANR9>3.0.CO;2-H.


Objective: To determine whether volumetric magnetization transfer imaging (MTI) histogram analysis can detect abnormalities in patients with active neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE) and to compare the MTI findings in patients with active NPSLE, chronic NPSLE, and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as in normal control subjects.

Methods: Eight female and 1 male patient with active nonthromboembolic NPSLE (mean +/- SD age 39 +/- 9 years), 10 female patients with chronic NPSLE (age 33 +/- 11 years), 10 female patients with SLE and no history of NPSLE (non-NPSLE; age 34 +/- 11 years), 10 female patients with inactive MS (age 41 +/- 6 years), and 10 healthy control subjects (age 33 +/- 11 years) underwent MTL. Using the MTI scans, histograms were composed from which we derived a variety of parameters that quantitatively reflect the uniformity of the brain parenchyma as well as the ratio of cerebrospinal fluid to intracranial volume, which reflects atrophy.

Results: The magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) histograms in the non-NPSLE group and the healthy control group were similar, whereas those in the chronic NPSLE and MS groups were flatter. There was also flattening of the histograms in the active NPSLE group, but with a shift toward higher MTRs.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that volumetric MTI analysis detects cerebral changes in the active phase of NPSLE. The abnormalities in the brain parenchyma of patients with chronic NPSLE produced MTI values that were the same as those in patients with inactive MS. MTI values in the active phase of NPSLE differed from those in the chronic phase, which might reflect the presence of inflammation. These preliminary results suggest that MTI might provide evidence for the presence of active NPSLE. MTI might also prove to be a valuable technique for monitoring treatment trials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology