Quantitative MRI-pathology correlations of brain white matter lesions developing in a non-human primate model of multiple sclerosis



Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced with recombinant human myelin/oligodendrocyte glycoprotein in the common marmoset is a useful preclinical model of multiple sclerosis in which white matter lesions can be well visualized with MRI. In this study we characterized lesion progression with quantitative in vivo MRI (4.7 T; T1 relaxation time ± Gd-DTPA; T2 relaxation time; magnetization transfer ratio, MTR, imaging) and correlated end stage MRI presentation with quantitative ex vivo MRI (formaldehyde fixed brains; T1 and T2 relaxation times; MTR) and histology. The histopathological characterization included axonal density measurements and the numeric quantification of infiltrated macrophages expressing markers for early active [luxol fast blue (LFB) or migration inhibition factor-related protein-14 positive] or late active/inactive [periodic acid Schiff (PAS) positive] demyelinating lesion. MRI experiments were done every two weeks until the monkeys were sacrificed with severe EAE-related motor deficits. Compared with the normal appearing white matter, lesions showed an initial increase in T1 relaxation times, leakage of Gd-DTPA and decrease in MTR values. The progressive enlargement of lesions was associated with stabilized T1 values, while T2 initially increased and stabilized thereafter and MTR remained decreased. Gd-DTPA leakage was highly variable throughout the experiment. MRI characteristics of the cortex and (normal appearing) white matter did not change during the experiment. We observed that in vivo MTR values correlated positively with the number of early active (LFB+) and negatively with late active (PAS+) macrophages. Ex vivo MTR and relaxation times correlated positively with the number of PAS-positive macrophages. None of the investigated MRI parameters correlated with axonal density. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.