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Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging maps neural damage in the EAE model of multiple sclerosis

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Diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) is an imaging modality that yields novel disease biomarkers and in combination with nervous tissue modeling, provides access to microstructural parameters. Recently, DKI and subsequent estimation of microstructural model parameters has been used for assessment of tissue changes in neurodegenerative diseases and associated animal models. In this study, mouse spinal cords from the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of multiple sclerosis (MS) were investigated for the first time using DKI in combination with biophysical modeling to study the relationship between microstructural metrics and degree of animal dysfunction. Thirteen spinal cords were extracted from animals with varied grades of disability and scanned in a high-field MRI scanner along with five control specimen. Diffusion weighted data were acquired together with high resolution T2* images. Diffusion data were fit to estimate diffusion and kurtosis tensors and white matter modeling parameters, which were all used for subsequent statistical analysis using a linear mixed effects model. T2* images were used to delineate focal demyelination/inflammation. Our results reveal a strong relationship between disability and measured microstructural parameters in normal appearing white matter and gray matter. Relationships between disability and mean of the kurtosis tensor, radial kurtosis, radial diffusivity were similar to what has been found in other hypomyelinating MS models, and in patients. However, the changes in biophysical modeling parameters and in particular in extra-axonal axial diffusivity were clearly different from previous studies employing other animal models of MS. In conclusion, our data suggest that DKI and microstructural modeling can provide a unique contrast capable of detecting EAE-specific changes correlating with clinical disability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116406
JournalNeuroImage
Volume208
Number of pages14
ISSN1053-8119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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