Myelin water weighted diffusion tensor imaging.
In this study we describe our development and implementation of a magnetization transfer (MT) prepared stimulated-echo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) technique that can be made sensitive to the microanatomy of myelin tissue. The short echo time (TE) enabled by the stimulated-echo acquisition preserves significant signal from the short T(2) component (myelin water), and the MT preparation further provides differentiating sensitization to this signal. It was found that this combined strategy could provide sufficient sensitivity in our first attempt to image myelin microstructure. Compared to the diffusion tensor derived from the conventional DTI technique, the myelin water weighted (MWW) tensor has the same principal diffusion direction but exhibits a significant increase in fractional anisotropy (FA), which is mainly due to a decrease in radial diffusivity. These findings are consistent with the microstructural organization of the myelin sheaths that wrap around the axons in the white matter and therefore hinder radial diffusion. Given that many white matter diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis) begin with a degradation of myelin microanatomy but not a loss of myelin content (e.g. loosening of the myelin sheaths), our newly implemented MWW DTI has the potential to lead to improved assessment of myelin pathology and early detection of demyelination.
Avram, AV; Guidon, A; Song, AW
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