Characterization of multiple sclerosis neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration with relaxation and diffusion basis spectrum imaging

Mult Scler. 2022 Mar;28(3):418-428. doi: 10.1177/13524585211023345. Epub 2021 Jun 16.


Background: Advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods can provide more specific information about various microstructural tissue changes in multiple sclerosis (MS) brain. Quantitative measurement of T1 and T2 relaxation, and diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) yield metrics related to the pathology of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration that occurs across the spectrum of MS.

Objective: To use relaxation and DBSI MRI metrics to describe measures of neuroinflammation, myelin and axons in different MS subtypes.

Methods: 103 participants (20 clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), 33 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 30 secondary progressive MS and 20 primary progressive MS) underwent quantitative T1, T2, DBSI and conventional 3T MRI. Whole brain, normal-appearing white matter, lesion and corpus callosum MRI metrics were compared across MS subtypes.

Results: A gradation of MRI metric values was seen from CIS to RRMS to progressive MS. RRMS demonstrated large oedema-related differences, while progressive MS had the most extensive abnormalities in myelin and axonal measures.

Conclusion: Relaxation and DBSI-derived MRI measures show differences between MS subtypes related to the severity and composition of underlying tissue damage. RRMS showed oedema, demyelination and axonal loss compared with CIS. Progressive MS had even more evidence of increased oedema, demyelination and axonal loss compared with CIS and RRMS.

Keywords: T1 relaxation; T2 relaxation; brain; diffusion basis spectrum imaging; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive* / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive* / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting* / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting* / pathology
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / pathology