Magnetization transfer ratio and myelin in postmortem multiple sclerosis brain

Ann Neurol. 2004 Sep;56(3):407-15. doi: 10.1002/ana.20202.


Several quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) measures are used to investigate multiple sclerosis (MS) in vivo. Precise quantitative investigation of the histopathological correlates of such measures has, to date, been limited. This study investigates the relationship of quantitative measures of myelin content, axonal density, and gliosis with quantitative MR measures in postmortem (PM) MS tissue. MR imaging (MRI) was performed on a 1.5T scanner and T1-relaxation time (T1-RT) and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) maps were acquired in fresh PM brain of 20 MS subjects. Myelin content, axonal counts, and the extent of gliosis all were quantified using morphometric and digital imaging techniques. MRI and pathological data were in most cases coregistered using stereotactic navigation. Using multiple regression analysis, we detected significant correlations between myelin content (Tr(myelin)) and MTR (r = -0.84, p < 0.001) and myelin content and axonal count (-0.80, p < 0.001); MTR correlated with T1-RT (r = -0.79, p < 0.001). No association was detected between the extent of gliosis and either MR measure. MTR was significantly higher in remyelinated than demyelinated lesions (means: 30.0 [standard deviation, 2.9] vs 23.8 [standard deviation, 4.3], p = 0.008). In conclusion, MTR is affected by myelin content in MS white matter.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies