White matter T(1) relaxation time histograms and cerebral atrophy in multiple sclerosis

J Neurol Sci. 2002 May 15;197(1-2):45-50. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(02)00044-8.


T(1) relaxation time (T(1)) provides a quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) parameter for evaluating tissue damage in the brain. We aimed to measure T(1) in the white matter of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and study relationships with cerebral atrophy, T(2) lesion load and clinical parameters. Twenty-six patients with relapsing-remitting MS and sixteen healthy controls were scanned with dual-echo T(2)-weighted, 3-dimensional (3-D) magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo and whole brain, multi-slice inversion recovery (IR) sequences. White matter masks were defined on axial T(1) map slices using semi-automated seed growing and normalized 'total white matter' T(1) histograms generated. Atrophy data was obtained using the Cavalieri method of modern design stereology. T(2) lesion volume was also determined using seed growing.T(1) histogram-derived measures (median, peak height, peak position and standard deviation) in MS patients were significantly different (p < 0.0001) from controls. Median T(1) correlated significantly with supratentorial (r = 0.42, p = 0.036), lateral ventricle (r = 0.55, p = 0.004), and T(2) lesion volumes (r = 0.84, p < 0.0001), but not with clinical parameters. Total white matter T(1) provides a robust, quantitative measure of global disease burden in MS, and also correlates significantly with cerebral atrophy. Serial studies are required to determine its potential role as a surrogate marker of disease progression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / standards
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results