Two-dimensional magnetization-transfer - CPMG MRI reveals tract-specific signatures in fixed rat spinal cord

J Magn Reson. 2018 Dec;297:124-137. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2018.10.014. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


Multiexponential T2 (MET2) Relaxometry and Magnetization Transfer (MT) are among the most promising MRI-derived techniques for white matter (WM) characterization. Both techniques are shown to have histologically correlated sensitivity to myelin, but these correlations are not fully understood. Furthermore, MET2 and MT report on different WM features, thus they can be considered specific to different (patho)physiological states. Two-dimensional studies potentially resolving interactions, such as those commonly used in NMR, have been rarely performed in this context. Here, we investigated how off-resonance irradiation affects different MET2 components in fixed rat spinal cord white matter at 16.4 T. These 2D MT-MET2 experiments reveal that MT affects both short and long T2 components in a tract-specific fashion. The spatially distinct signal modulations enhanced contrast between microstructurally-distinct spinal cord tracts. Two hypotheses to explain these findings were proposed: either selective elimination of a short T2 component through pre-saturation combines with intercompartmental water exchange effects occurring on the irradiation timescale; or, other macromolecular species that exist within the tissue - other than myelin - such as neurofilaments, may be involved in the apparent microstructural segregation of the spinal cord (SC) from MET2. Though further investigation is required to elucidate the underlying mechanism, this phenomenon adds a new dimension for WM characterization.

Keywords: Magnetization transfer; Multiexponential T(2) relaxometry; Offset-saturation-induced shifts; Rat spinal cord; White matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging*
  • Water / chemistry
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging


  • Water