Implications of fitting a two-compartment model in single-shell diffusion MRI

Phys Med Biol. 2023 Oct 26;68(21):10.1088/1361-6560/ad0216. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/ad0216.


It is becoming increasingly common for studies to fit single-shell diffusion MRI data to a two-compartment model, which comprises a hindered cellular compartment and a freely diffusing isotropic compartment. These studies consistently find that the fraction of the isotropic compartment (f) is sensitive to white matter (WM) conditions and pathologies, although the actual biological source of changes infhas not been validated. In this work we put aside the biological interpretation offand study the sensitivity implications of fitting single-shell data to a two-compartment model. We identify a nonlinear transformation between the one-compartment model (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI) and a two-compartment model in which the mean diffusivities of both compartments are effectively fixed. While the analytic relationship implies that fitting this two-compartment model does not offer any more information than DTI, it explains why metrics derived from a two-compartment model can exhibit enhanced sensitivity over DTI to certain types of WM processes, such as age-related WM differences. The sensitivity enhancement should not be viewed as a substitute for acquiring multi-shell data. Rather, the results of this study provide insight into the consequences of choosing a two-compartment model when only single-shell data is available.

Keywords: brain aging; diffusion MRI; modeling; sensitivity; white matter.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging* / methods
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / pathology