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Myelin water measurement by magnetic resonance imaging in the healthy human spinal cord : reproducibility and changes with age MacMillan, Erin Leigh


Multi-echo T2 relaxation measurements of the human spinal cord (SC) reveal a short T2 pool of water believed to arise from water trapped between myelin bilayers, where the proportion of this water to the total water signal is called the myelin water fraction (MWF). In the present study, MWF were measured in the healthy human cervical spine at the C4-C6 vertebral levels in vivo using a 3D modified 32 echo CPMG sequence to acquire axial slices perpendicular to the cord. Volunteers were recruited in two age ranges, under 30 years old and over 50 years old, and a subset of both groups were scanned twice to test reproducibility. Mean MWF in the dorsal and lateral column WM of the group under 30 years of age was 0.29 (0.01) (mean(SE)), which agrees with previously reported MWF values in the cervical spine. The mean absolute difference between two scans was 0.06 or 26%. A negative correlation between WM MWF and age was hinted at in these findings, however more subjects are required to improve statistical power. This study paves the way for the use of 3D myelin water imaging in the cervical spine at 3.0T for the assessment of SC WM pathology.

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