Pathologic damage in MS assessed by diffusion-weighted and magnetization transfer MRI

M. Cercignani, G. Iannucci, M. A. Rocca, G. Comi, M. A. Horsfield, M. Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare diffusion characteristics of MS lesions, normal- appearing white matter (NAWM) from patients, and normal white matter from control subjects, and to investigate the correlations between the magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) and a directionally averaged tissue water diffusion coefficient (D) in patients. Background: MS and other pathologic processes that modify tissue integrity can result in abnormal diffusion of water molecules detectable by diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). Methods: Conventional dual-echo and DWI scans were obtained from 35 patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 24 healthy control subjects. MT scans were also obtained from the patients. After coregistration of all scans, MTR and D values from MS lesions and NAWM in different regions were marked using the dual-echo scans as a reference. D values from the same brain regions in control subjects were acquired. Histograms of MTR and D were also produced. Results: Patients with MS had significantly higher D values in all the areas studied. Moreover, histogram metrics (peak height, peak site, and average D) from patients were substantially different from those of control subjects. In patients, average lesion D and MTR were markedly different from those in the NAWM. There was an inverse correlation between average lesion MTR and D inside lesions, whereas no correlation was found for average MTR and D taken from the histograms. Conclusions: DWI detects severe tissue disruption inside lesions and subtle widespread abnormalities in NAWM in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. MT and DWI may provide information about different aspects of brain pathology in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1144
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 14 2000


  • Diffusion-weighted imaging
  • Magnetization transfer imaging
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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