MRI-based myelin water imaging: A technical review

Magn Reson Med. 2015 Jan;73(1):70-81. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25198. Epub 2014 Mar 6.


Multiexponential T2 relaxation time measurement in the central nervous system shows a component that originates from water trapped between the lipid bilayers of myelin. This myelin water component is of significant interest as it provides a myelin-specific MRI signal of value in assessing myelin changes in cerebral white matter in vivo. In this article, the various acquisition and analysis strategies proposed to date for myelin water imaging are reviewed and research conducted into their validity and clinical applicability is presented. Comparisons between the imaging methods are made with a discussion regarding potential difficulties and model limitations.

Keywords: T2 distribution; T2 relaxation; brain microstructure; myelin water fraction; myelin water imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical
  • White Matter / metabolism*