Local magnetization transfer ratio signal inhomogeneity is related to subsequent change in MTR in lesions and normal-appearing white-matter of multiple sclerosis patients

Neuroimage. 2005 May 1;25(4):1272-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.12.046.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions show differing degrees of demyelination and remyelination. Changes in myelin content are associated with changes in magnetization transfer on MRI. Since acute inflammation and demyelination are spatially and temporally inhomogeneous, we hypothesized that local magnetic transfer ratio (MTR) heterogeneity might be predictive of subsequent changes in MTR. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed MTR images obtained in 14 subjects, at baseline and after 2 months follow-up. We segmented lesions and normal-appearing white-matter (NAWM), calculated MTR signal inhomogeneity maps at baseline and MTR lesion difference maps between baseline and follow-up. We found that regions with low MTR inhomogeneity at baseline experienced little further change in MTR on follow-up. The mean change in lesion MTR between baseline and follow-up was 0.10 +/- 3.70; in NAWM it was -0.09 +/- 2.02. We found that regions with high MTR inhomogeneity at baseline would change MTR on follow-up: (1) voxels with significantly high MTR in regions of high MTR inhomogeneity at baseline showed a mean decrease in MTR between baseline and follow-up of -2.51 +/- 4.68 in lesions and -1.41 +/- 3.00 in NAWM; (2) voxels with low MTR in regions of high MTR inhomogeneity at baseline showed a mean increase in MTR between baseline and follow-up of 2.61 +/- 6.07 in lesions. These changes in MTR were significantly different (P < 0.001). These results suggest that calculation of MTR signal inhomogeneity may provide a method for quantifying the potential for remyelination and demyelination, and thus could provide an important MRI biomarker for assessing the efficacy of therapies targeting remyelination.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*


  • Biomarkers