T2 relaxation time analysis in patients with multiple sclerosis: correlation with magnetization transfer ratio

Eur Radiol. 2004 Jan;14(1):115-22. doi: 10.1007/s00330-003-1946-0. Epub 2003 Nov 5.


The aim of the current study was to perform T2 relaxation time measurements in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and correlate them with magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) measurements, in order to investigate in more detail the various histopathological changes that occur in lesions and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM). A total number of 291 measurements of MTR and T2 relaxation times were performed in 13 MS patients and 10 age-matched healthy volunteers. Measurements concerned MS plaques (105), NAWM (80), and "dirty" white matter (DWM; 30), evenly divided between the MS patients, and normal white matter (NWM; 76) in the healthy volunteers. Biexponential T2 relaxation-time analysis was performed, and also possible linearity between MTR and mean T2 relaxation times was evaluated using linear regression analysis in all subgroups. Biexponential relaxation was more pronounced in "black-hole" lesions (16.6%) and homogeneous enhancing plaques (10%), whereas DWM, NAWM, and mildly hypointense lesions presented biexponential behavior with a lower frequency(6.6, 5, and 3.1%, respectively). Non-enhancing isointense lesions and normal white matter did not reveal any biexponential behavior. Linear regression analysis between monoexponential T2 relaxation time and MTR measurements demonstrated excellent correlation for DWM( r=-0.78, p<0.0001), very good correlation for black-hole lesions( r=-0.71, p=0.002), good correlation for isointense lesions( r=-0.60, p=0.005), moderate correlation for mildly hypointense lesions( r=-0.34, p=0.007), and non-significant correlation for homogeneous enhancing plaques, NAWM, and NWM. Biexponential T2 relaxation-time behavior is seen in only very few lesions (mainly on plaques with high degree of demyelination and axonal loss). A strong correlation between MTR and monoexponential T2 values was found in regions where either inflammation or demyelination predominates; however, when both pathological conditions coexist, this linear relationship is lost.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Synaptic Transmission