Quantitative T1 brain mapping in early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: longitudinal changes, lesion heterogeneity and disability.

James G Harper, E.N. York*, Rozanna Meijboom, Agniete Kampaite, Michael J Thrippleton, Patrick K A Kearns, Maria Del C Valdés Hernández, Siddharthan Chandran, Adam D Waldman, FutureMS Consortium, Mark E Bastin (Member of Consortium), Baljean Dhillon (Member of Consortium), Peter Foley (Member of Consortium), David P J Hunt (Member of Consortium), Don Mahad (Member of Consortium), Stewart Wiseman (Member of Consortium), Charis Wong (Member of Consortium)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

OBJECTIVES: To quantify brain microstructural changes in recently diagnosed relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) using longitudinal T1 measures, and determine their associations with clinical disability.

METHODS: Seventy-nine people with recently diagnosed (< 6 months) RRMS were recruited from a single-centre cohort sub-study, and underwent baseline and 1-year brain MRI, including variable flip angle T1 mapping. Median T1 was measured in white matter lesions (WML), normal-appearing white matter (NAWM), cortical/deep grey matter (GM), thalami, basal ganglia and medial temporal regions. Prolonged T1 (≥ 2.00 s) and supramedian T1 (relative to cohort WML values) WML voxel counts were also measured. Longitudinal change was assessed with paired t-tests and compared with Bland-Altman limits of agreement from healthy control test-retest data. Regression analyses determined relationships with Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score and dichotomised EDSS outcomes (worsening or stable/improving).

RESULTS: Sixty-two people with RRMS (mean age 37.2 ± 10.9 [standard deviation], 48 female) and 11 healthy controls (age 44 ± 11, 7 female) contributed data. Prolonged and supramedian T1 WML components increased longitudinally (176 and 463 voxels, respectively; p < .001), and were associated with EDSS score at baseline (p < .05) and follow-up (supramedian: p < .01; prolonged: p < .05). No cohort-wide median T1 changes were found; however, increasing T1 in WML, NAWM, cortical/deep GM, basal ganglia and thalami was positively associated with EDSS worsening (p < .05).

CONCLUSION: T1 is sensitive to brain microstructure changes in early RRMS. Prolonged WML T1 components and subtle changes in NAWM and GM structures are associated with disability.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: MRI T1 brain mapping quantifies disability-associated white matter lesion heterogeneity and subtle microstructural damage in normal-appearing brain parenchyma in recently diagnosed RRMS, and shows promise for early objective disease characterisation and stratification.

KEY POINTS: • Quantitative T1 mapping detects brain microstructural damage and lesion heterogeneity in recently diagnosed relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. • T1 increases in lesions and normal-appearing parenchyma, indicating microstructural damage, are associated with worsening disability. • Brain T1 measures are objective markers of disability-relevant pathology in early multiple sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Radiology
Early online date9 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2023


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