Multicenter clinical and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) studies require a high degree of reproducibility across different sites and scanner manufacturers, as well as time points. We therefore implemented a multiparameter mapping (MPM) protocol based on vendor's product sequences and demonstrate its repeatability and reproducibility for whole-brain coverage. Within ~20 min, four MPM metrics (magnetization transfer saturation [MT], proton density [PD], longitudinal [R1], and effective transverse [R2*] relaxation rates) were measured using an optimized 1 mm isotropic resolution protocol on six 3 T MRI scanners from two different vendors. The same five healthy participants underwent two scanning sessions, on the same scanner, at each site. MPM metrics were calculated using the hMRI-toolbox. To account for different MT pulses used by each vendor, we linearly scaled the MT values to harmonize them across vendors. To determine longitudinal repeatability and inter-site comparability, the intra-site (i.e., scan-rescan experiment) coefficient of variation (CoV), inter-site CoV, and bias across sites were estimated. For MT, R1, and PD, the intra- and inter-site CoV was between 4 and 10% across sites and scan time points for intracranial gray and white matter. A higher intra-site CoV (16%) was observed in R2* maps. The inter-site bias was below 5% for all parameters. In conclusion, the MPM protocol yielded reliable quantitative maps at high resolution with a short acquisition time. The high reproducibility of MPM metrics across sites and scan time points combined with its tissue microstructure sensitivity facilitates longitudinal multicenter imaging studies targeting microstructural changes, for example, as a quantitative MRI biomarker for interventional clinical trials.
Keywords: clinical trial; in vivo histology using MRI; multicenter study; multiparameter mapping; quantitative MRI; reproducibility.
© 2020 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.