Using MRI to Track Cerebral Damage in Multiple Sclerosis

Tanyatorn Ghanjanasak, DO, for Medscape

May 05, 2022

The study covered in this summary was published on as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaways

  • Among patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), those who had a better clinical course were found to have microstructural improvement in quantitative MRI (qMRI) parameters, suggesting repair mechanisms.

  • qMRI may be able to detect modifications in tissue microstructure in normal-appearing brain tissue around lesions several months before they can be detected with conventional MRI.

Why This Matters

  • Multiple qMRI parameters may be useful for detecting subtle changes within normal-appearing brain tissue and plaque dynamics in patients with MS.

  • The subtle changes surrounding lesions found on conventional MRI can provide insight into disease repair or progression.

Study Design

  • The longitudinal study evaluated 17 patients with RRMS from two studies. The patients underwent scanning twice; the interval between scans was at least 1 year.

    • Age, 25 – 65 years.

    • Two scanning sessions were separated by a median of 30 months.

  • Four simultaneously acquired qMRI parameters, saturated magnetization transfer, proton density (PD), R1, and R2, within normal-appearing white matter, normal-appearing cortical gray matter, normal-appearing deep gray matter, and focal white matter lesions were analyzed.

  • An individual annual rate of change for each parameter was computed for correlation with clinical status.

Key Results

  • The microstructure of normal-appearing brain tissue changed gradually with time and may may potentially drive clinical evolution.

  • The microstructure within white matter plaques were heterogeneous and predicted expansion on conventional MRI.

  • Significant brain atrophy and lesion load increased with time.


  • The sample size was small (17 patients), and the dataset was heterogeneous.

  • The interval between two scanning sessions varied between 14 months and 61 months (median, 30 months).

  • There was a lack of longitudinal MRI data from healthy persons to use as a control.


  • This study was supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FRS-FNRS Belgium).

  • The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, "Using Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging to Track Cerebral Damage in Multiple Sclerosis: A Longitudinal Study," written by Nora Vandeleene from the GIGA CRC in vivo Imaging, University of Liège, in Liège, Belgium, and colleagues. It was published on and was provided to you by Medscape. The study has not yet been peer reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on

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