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Assessment of myelination in infants and young children by T1 relaxation time measurements using the magnetization-prepared 2 rapid acquisition gradient echoes sequence

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  • Fabienne Kühne, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • ,
  • Wolf Julian Neumann, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • ,
  • Philip Hofmann
  • José Marques, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • ,
  • Angela M. Kaindl, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • ,
  • Anna Tietze

Background: Axonal myelination is an important maturation process in the developing brain. Increasing myelin content correlates with the longitudinal relaxation rate (R1=1/T1) in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Objective: By using magnetization-prepared 2 rapid acquisition gradient echoes (MP2RAGE) on a 3-T MRI system, we provide R1 values and myelination rates for infants and young children. Materials and methods: Average R1 values in white and grey matter regions in 94 children without pathological MRI findings (age range: 3 months to 6 years) were measured and fitted by a saturating-exponential growth model. For comparison, R1 values of 36 children with different brain pathologies are presented. The findings were related to a qualitative evaluation using T2, magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo (MP-RAGE) and MP2RAGE. Results: R1 changes rapidly in the first 16 months of life, then much slower thereafter. R1 is highest in pre-myelinated structures in the youngest subjects, such as the posterior limb of the internal capsule (0.74–0.76±0.04 s−1) and lowest for the corpus callosum (0.37–0.44±0.03 s−1). The myelination rate is fastest in the corpus callosum and slowest in the deep grey matter. R1 is decreased in hypo- and dysmyelination disorders. Myelin maturation is clearly visible on MP2RAGE, especially in the first year of life. Conclusion: MP2RAGE permits a quantitative R1 mapping method with an examination time of approximately 6 min. The age-dependent R1 values for children without MRI-identified brain pathologies are well described by a saturating-exponential function with time constants depending on the investigated brain region. This model can serve as a reference for this age group and to search for indications of subtle pathologies. Moreover, the MP2RAGE sequence can also be used for the qualitative assessment of myelinated structures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Radiology
Pages (from-to)2058-2068
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Children, Infants, Magnetic resonance imaging, Magnetization-prepared 2 rapid acquisition gradient echoes, Myelination, R1 relaxometry, Reference measurements, T1 measurements

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