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More MS news articles for March 2004

Water content and myelin water fraction in multiple sclerosis - A T(2) relaxation study

J Neurol. 2004 Mar;251(3):284-93
Laule C, Vavasour IM, Moore GR, Oger J, Li DK, Paty DW, MacKay AL.
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, University of British Columbia Hospital, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 2B5, Canada


Measurements of the T(2) decay curve provide estimates of total water content and myelin water fraction in white matter in-vivo, which may help in understanding the pathological progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).


Thirty-three MS patients (24 relapsing remitting, 8 secondary progressive, 1 primary progressive) and 18 controls underwent MR examinations.

T(2) relaxation data were acquired using a 32-echo measurement.

All controls and 18 of the 33 MS patients were scanned in the transverse plane through the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum.

Five white matter and 6 grey matter structures were outlined in each of these subjects.

The remaining 15 MS patients were scanned in other transverse planes.

A total of 189 lesions were outlined in the MS patients.

Water content and myelin water fraction were calculated for all regions of interest and all lesions.


The normal appearing white matter (NAWM) water content was, on average, 2.2% greater than that from controls, with significant differences occurring in the posterior internal capsules, genu and splenium of the corpus callosum, minor forceps and major forceps (p < 0.0006).

On average, MS lesions had 6.3% higher water content than contralateral NAWM (p < 0.0001).

Myelin water fraction was 16% lower in NAWM than for controls, with significant differences in the major and minor forceps, internal capsules, and splenium (p < 0.05).

The myelin water fraction of MS lesions averaged 52 % that of NAWM.


NAWM in MS has a higher water content and lower myelin water fraction than control white matter.

The cause of the myelin water fraction decrease in NAWM could potentially be due to either diffuse edema, inflammation, demyelination or any combination of these features.

We present a simple model which suggests that myelin loss is the dominant feature of NAWM pathology.