Comparison of multi echo T2 relaxation and steady state approaches for myelin imaging in the central nervous system

Adam V Dvorak, Emil Ljungberg, Irene M Vavasour, Lisa Eunyoung Lee, Shawna Abel, David K B Li, Anthony Traboulsee, Alex L MacKay, Shannon H Kolind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The traditional approach for measuring myelin-associated water with quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses multi-echo T 2 relaxation data to calculate the myelin water fraction (MWF). A fundamentally different approach, abbreviated “mcDESPOT”, uses a more efficient steady-state acquisition to generate an equivalent metric (f M). Although previous studies have demonstrated inherent instability and bias in the complex mcDESPOT analysis procedure, f M has often been used as a surrogate for MWF. We produced and compared multivariate atlases of MWF and f M in healthy human brain and cervical spinal cord (available online) and compared their ability to detect multiple sclerosis pathology. A significant bias was found in all regions (p < 10 –5), albeit reversed for spinal cord (f M-MWF = − 3.4%) compared to brain (+ 6.2%). MWF and f M followed an approximately linear relationship for regions with MWF < ~ 10%. For MWF > ~ 10%, the relationship broke down and f M no longer increased in tandem with MWF. For multiple sclerosis patients, MWF and f M Z score maps showed overlapping areas of low Z score and similar trends between patients and brain regions, although those of f M generally had greater spatial extent and magnitude of severity. These results will guide future choice of myelin-sensitive quantitative MRI and improve interpretation of studies using either myelin imaging approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1369
Pages (from-to)1369
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021


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