The cuprizone mouse model is well established for studying the processes of both demyelination and remyelination in the corpus callosum, and it has been utilized together with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate myelin and axonal pathology. Although some underlying morphological mechanisms contributing to the changes in diffusion tensor (DT) metrics have been identified, the understanding of specific associations between histology and diffusion measures remains limited. Diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI) is an extension of DTI that provides metrics of diffusional non-Gaussianity, for which an associated white matter modeling (WMM) method has been developed. The main goal of the present study was to quantitatively assess the relationships between diffusion measures and histological measures in the mouse model of cuprizone-induced corpus callosum demyelination. The diffusional kurtosis (DK) and WMM metrics were found to provide additional information that enhances the sensitivity to detect the morphological heterogeneity in the chronic phase of the disease process in the rostral segment of the corpus callosum. Specifically, in the rostral segment, axonal water fraction (d = 2.6; p < 0.0001), radial kurtosis (d = 2.0; p = 0.001) and mean kurtosis (d = 1.5; p = 0.005) showed the most sensitivity between groups with respect to yielding statistically significant p values and high Cohen's d values. These results demonstrate the ability of DK and WMM metrics to detect white mater changes and inflammatory processes associated with cuprizone-induced demyelination. They also validate, in part, the application of these new WMM metrics for studying neurological diseases, as well as helping to elucidate their biophysical meaning.
Keywords: DKI; MRI; corpus callosum; cuprizone; demyelination; diffusion; mouse.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.