[ 18 F]Florbetapir PET/MR Imaging to Assess Demyelination in Multiple Sclerosis

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2020 Feb;47(2):366-378. doi: 10.1007/s00259-019-04533-y. Epub 2019 Oct 21.


Purpose: We evaluated myelin changes throughout the central nervous system in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients by using hybrid [18F]florbetapir PET-MR imaging.

Methods: We included 18 relapsing-remitting MS patients and 12 healthy controls. Each subject performed a hybrid [18F]florbetapir PET-MR and both a clinical and cognitive assessment. [18F]florbetapir binding was measured as distribution volume ratio (DVR), through the Logan graphical reference method and the supervised cluster analysis to extract a reference region, and standard uptake value (SUV) in the 70-90 min interval after injection. The two quantification approaches were compared. We also evaluated changes in the measures derived from diffusion tensor imaging and arterial spin labeling.

Results: [18F]florbetapir DVRs decreased from normal-appearing white matter to the centre of T2 lesion (P < 0.001), correlated with fractional anisotropy and with mean, axial and radial diffusivity within T2 lesions (coeff. = -0.15, P < 0.001, coeff. = -0.12, P < 0.001 and coeff. = -0.16, P < 0.001, respectively). Cerebral blood flow was reduced in white matter damaged areas compared to white matter in healthy controls (-10.9%, P = 0.005). SUV70-90 and DVR are equally able to discriminate between intact and damaged myelin (area under the curve 0.76 and 0.66, respectively; P = 0.26).

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that [18F]florbetapir PET imaging can measure in-vivo myelin damage in patients with MS. Demyelination in MS is not restricted to lesions detected through conventional MRI but also involves the normal appearing white matter. Although longitudinal studies are needed, [18F]florbetapir PET imaging may have a role in clinical settings in the management of MS patients.

Keywords: Demyelination; Multiple sclerosis; PET; Pathology; [18F]florbetapir.