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Within-lesion differences in quantitative MRI parameters predict contrast enhancement in multiple sclerosis




To investigate the relationship between quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) and contrast enhancement in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions. We compared maps of T1 relaxation time, proton density (PD), and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) between lesions with and without contrast enhancement as quantified by the amount of T1 shortening postcontrast agent (CA).

Materials and Methods

In 17 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 15 with progressive MS (PMS), and 17 healthy controls, T1, PD, and MTR were measured at 3T and T1-mapping was repeated after CA administration. Manually drawn MS-lesions (3D-FLAIR) were labeled as enhancing if post-CA T1-shortening exceeded mean T1-shortening in normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) by at least 2 standard deviations. Precontrast T1, PD, and MTR were compared in enhancing lesions, nonenhancing lesions, NAWM, and gray matter.


Precontrast T1, PD, and MTR differed significantly between enhancing and nonenhancing lesions in RRMS and PMS patients (all P < 0.01). In PMS patients, PD of NAWM, enhancing, and nonenhancing lesions and MTR and T1 of gray matter differed significantly from RRMS and controls. Only MTR of gray matter differed between RRMS and controls.


Contrast enhancement in MS quantified by relative T1 shortening may be predicted by precontrast abnormalities of T1, PD, and MTR and likely represents blood–brain barrier damage. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2013;38:1454–1461. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.