Spatiotemporal trajectories of quantitative magnetization transfer measurements in injured spinal cord using simplified acquisitions
Chen, Li Min
Gore, John C.
Abstract Purpose: This study aims to systematically evaluate the accuracy and precision of pool size ratio (PSR) measurements from quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) acquisitions using simplified models in the context of assessing injury-associated spatiotemporal changes in spinal cords of non-human primates. This study also aims to characterize changes in the spinal tissue pathology in individual subjects, both regionally and longitudinally, in order to demonstrate the relationship between regional tissue compositional changes and sensorimotor behavioral recovery after cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods: MRI scans were recorded on anesthetized monkeys at 9.4 T, before and serially after a unilateral section of the dorsal column tract. Images were acquired following saturating RF pulses at different offset frequencies. Models incorporating two pools of protons but with differing numbers of variable parameters were used to fit the data to derive qMT parameters. The results using different amounts of measured data and assuming different numbers of variable model parameters were compared. Behavioral impairments and recovery were assessed by a food grasping-retrieving task. Histological sections were obtained post mortem for validation of the injury. Results: QMT fitting provided maps of pool size ratio (PSR), the relative amounts of immobilized protons exchanging magnetization compared to the "free" water. All the selected modeling approaches detected a lesion/cyst at the site of injury as significant reductions in PSR values. The regional contrasts in the PSR maps obtained using the different fittings varied, but the 2-parameter fitting results showed strong positive correlations with results from 5-parameter modeling. 2-parameter fitting results with modest ( > 3) RF offsets showed comparable sensitivity for detecting demyelination in white matter and loss of macromolecules in gray matter around lesion sites compared to 5-parameter fitting with fully-sampled data acquisitions. Histology confirmed that decreases of PSR corresponded to regional demyelination around lesion sites, especially when demyelination occurred along the dorsal column on the injury side. Longitudinally, PSR values of injured dorsal column tract and gray matter horns exhibited remarkable recovery that associated with behavioral improvement. Conclusion: Simplified qMT modeling approaches provide efficient and sensitive means to detect and characterize injury-associated demyelination in white matter tracts and loss of macromolecules in gray matter and to monitor its recovery over time.