Quantification of magnetization transfer rate and native T1 relaxation time of the brain: correlation with magnetization transfer ratio measurements in patients with multiple sclerosis

Neuroradiology. 2005 Mar;47(3):189-96. doi: 10.1007/s00234-005-1344-1. Epub 2005 Feb 17.


The purpose of this paper is to perform quantitative measurements of the magnetization transfer rate (Kfor) and native T1 relaxation time (T1free) in the brain tissue of normal individuals and patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) by means of multiple gradient echo acquisitions, and to correlate these measurements with the magnetization transfer ratio (MTR). Quantitative magnetization transfer imaging was performed in five normal volunteers and 12 patients with relapsing-remitting MS on a 1.5 T magnetic resonance (MR) scanner. The T1 relaxation time under magnetization transfer irradiation (T1sat) was calculated by means of fitting the signal intensity over the flip angle in several 3D spoiled gradient echo acquisitions (3 degrees , 15 degrees , 30 degrees , and 60 degrees ), while a single acquisition without MT irradiation (flip angle of 3 degrees ) was utilized to calculate the MTR. The Kfor and T1free constants were quantified on a pixel-by-pixel basis and parametric maps were reconstructed. We performed 226 measurements of Kfor, T1free, and the MTR on normal white matter (NWM) of healthy volunteers (n=50), and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and pathological brain areas of MS patients (n=120 and 56, respectively). Correlation coefficients between Kfor-MTR, T1free-MTR, and T1free-Kfor were calculated. Lesions were classified, according to their characteristics on T1-weighted images, into isointense (compared to white matter), mildly hypointense (showing signal intensity lower than white matter and higher than gray matter), and severely hypointense (revealing signal intensity lower than gray matter). "Dirty" white matter (DWM) corresponded to areas with diffused high signal, as identified on T2-weighted images. Strong correlation coefficients were obtained between MTR and Kfor for all lesions studied (r2=0.9, p<0.0001), for mildly hypointense plaques (r2=0.82, p<0.0001), and for DWM (r2=0.78, p=0.0007). In contrast, comparison between MTR and T1free values yielded rather low correlation coefficients for all groups assessed. In severely hypointense lesions, an excellent correlation was found between Kfor and T1free measurements (r2=0.98, p<0.0001). Strong correlations between Kfor and T1free were found for the rest of the subgroups, except for the NAWM, in which a moderate correlation was obtained (r2=0.5, p<0.0001). We conclude that Kfor and T1free measurements are feasible and may improve our understanding of the pathological brain changes that occur in MS patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*