Intervertebral disk: normal age-related changes in MR signal intensity

Radiology. 1990 Nov;177(2):385-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.177.2.2217773.


The effect of age on the signal intensity of normal lumbar intervertebral disks was studied. Twenty-seven cadavers ranging in age from newborn to 79 years were studied with use of a 1.5-T magnetic resonance (MR) imager within 48 hours of death. The signal intensity in the central area of the disk was measured on a sagittal image obtained with a long repetition time (TR) and a long echo time (TE) and correlated to the age. A significant correlation between the decrease in signal intensity and age was found, although signal intensity changed less than 6% in 80 years. The decrease in signal intensity is concomitant with decreases in water and glycosaminoglycans and increases in collagen in the disk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Autopsy
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intervertebral Disc / anatomy & histology*
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / anatomy & histology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism


  • Proteoglycans
  • Collagen