Evaluating single-point quantitative magnetization transfer in the cervical spinal cord: Application to multiple sclerosis.
Smith AK., By S., Lyttle BD., Dortch RD., Box BA., Mckeithan LJ., Thukral S., Bagnato F., Pawate S., Smith SA.
Spinal cord (SC) damage is linked to clinical deficits in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), however, conventional MRI methods are not specific to the underlying macromolecular tissue changes that may precede overt lesion detection. Single-point quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) is a method that can provide high-resolution indices sensitive to underlying macromolecular composition in a clinically feasible scan time by reducing the number of MT-weighted acquisitions and utilizing a two-pool model constrained by empirically determined constants. As the single-point qMT method relies on a priori constraints, it has not been employed extensively in patients, where these constraints may vary, and thus, the biases inherent in this model have not been evaluated in a patient cohort. We, therefore, addressed the potential biases in the single point qMT model by acquiring qMT measurements in the cervical SC in patient and control cohorts and evaluated the differences between the control and patient-derived qMT constraints (kmf, T2fR1f, and T2m) for the single point model. We determined that the macromolecular to free pool size ratio (PSR) differences between the control and patient-derived constraints are not significant (p > 0.149 in all cases). Additionally, the derived PSR for each cohort was compared, and we reported that the white matter PSR in healthy volunteers is significantly different from lesions (p < 0.005) and normal appearing white matter (p < 0.02) in all cases. The single point qMT method is thus a valuable method to quantitatively estimate white matter pathology in MS in a clinically feasible scan time.