Inter-Vendor Reproducibility of Myelin Water Imaging Using a 3D Gradient and Spin Echo Sequence

Front Neurosci. 2018 Nov 21;12:854. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00854. eCollection 2018.


Myelin water imaging can be achieved using multicomponent T2 relaxation analysis to quantify in vivo measurement of myelin content, termed the myelin water fraction (MWF). Therefore, myelin water imaging can be a valuable tool to better understand the underlying white matter pathology in demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. To apply myelin water imaging in multisite studies and clinical applications, it must be acquired in a clinically feasible scan time (less than 15 min) and be reproducible across sites and scanner vendors. Here, we assessed the reproducibility of MWF measurements in regional and global white matter in 10 healthy human brains across two sites with two different 3 T magnetic resonance imaging scanner vendors (Philips and Siemens), using a 32-echo gradient and spin echo (GRASE) sequence. A strong correlation was found between the MWF measurements in the global white matter (Pearson's r = 0.91; p < 0.001) for all participants across the two sites. The mean intersite MWF coefficient of variation across participants was 2.77% in the global white matter and ranged from 4.47% (splenium of the corpus callosum) to 17.89% (genu of the corpus callosum) in white matter regions of interest. Bland-Altman analysis showed a good agreement in MWF measurements between the two sites with small bias of 0.002. Overall, MWF estimates were in good agreement across the two sites and scanner vendors. Our findings support the use of quantitative multi-echo T2 relaxation metrics, such as the MWF, in multicenter studies and clinical trials to gain deeper understanding about the pathological processes resulting from the underlying disease progression in neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: GRASE; magnetic resonance imaging; multi-site; multi-vendor; myelin water imaging; quantitative imaging; reproducibility.