Quantitative NMRI and NMRS identify augmented disease progression after loss of ambulation in forearms of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

NMR Biomed. 2015 Sep;28(9):1150-62. doi: 10.1002/nbm.3352. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


Quantitative NMRI and (31)P NMRS indices are reported in the forearms of 24 patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) (6-18 years, 14 non-ambulant) amenable to exon 53 skipping therapy and in 12 age-matched male controls (CONT). Examinations carried out at 3 T comprised multi-slice 17-echo measurements of muscle water T2 and heterogeneity, three-point Dixon imaging of fat fraction in flexor and extensor muscles (FLEX, EXT), and non-localised spectroscopy of phosphate metabolites. We studied four imaging indices, eight metabolic ratios combining ATP, phosphocreatine, phosphomonoesters and phosphodiesters, the cytosolic inorganic phosphate (Pia ) and an alkaline (Pib) pool present in dystrophic muscle, and average pH. All indices differed between DMD and CONT, except for muscle water T2 . Measurements were outside the 95th percentile of age-matched CONT values in over 65% of cases for percentage fat signal (%F), and in 78-100% of cases for all spectroscopic indices. T2 was elevated in one-third of FLEX measurements, whereas %pixels > 39 ms and T2 heterogeneity were abnormal in one-half of the examinations. The FLEX muscles had higher fat infiltration and T2 than EXT muscle groups. All indices, except pH, correlated with patient age, although the correlation was negative for T2 . However, in non-ambulant patients, the correlation with years since loss of ambulation was stronger than the correlation with age, and the slope of evolution per year was steeper after loss of ambulation. All indices except Pi/gATP differed between ambulant and non-ambulant patients; however, T2 and %pixels > 39 ms were highest in ambulant patients, possibly owing to the greater extent of inflammatory processes earlier in the disease. All other indices were worse in non-ambulant subjects. Quantitative measurements obtained from patients at different disease stages covered a broad range of abnormalities that evolved with the disease, and metabolic indices were up to 10-fold above normal from the onset, thus establishing a variety of potential markers for future therapy.

Keywords: 31P MRS; Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD); MRI; T2; fat fraction; non-ambulant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disease Progression
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism*


  • Adenosine Triphosphate