Whole-Brain In-vivo Measurements of the Axonal G-Ratio in a Group of 37 Healthy Volunteers

Front Neurosci. 2015 Nov 27;9:441. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00441. eCollection 2015.


The g-ratio, quantifying the ratio between the inner and outer diameters of a fiber, is an important microstructural characteristic of fiber pathways and is functionally related to conduction velocity. We introduce a novel method for estimating the MR g-ratio non-invasively across the whole brain using high-fidelity magnetization transfer (MT) imaging and single-shell diffusion MRI. These methods enabled us to map the MR g-ratio in vivo across the brain's prominent fiber pathways in a group of 37 healthy volunteers and to estimate the inter-subject variability. Effective correction of susceptibility-related distortion artifacts was essential before combining the MT and diffusion data, in order to reduce partial volume and edge artifacts. The MR g-ratio is in good qualitative agreement with histological findings despite the different resolution and spatial coverage of MRI and histology. The MR g-ratio holds promise as an important non-invasive biomarker due to its microstructural and functional relevance in neurodegeneration.

Keywords: DTI; diffusion MRI; fiber volume fraction; g-ratio; in-vivo histology; magnetization transfer imaging; multi-parameter mapping; myelin volume fraction.