Quantitative MRI of lesion iron and myelin repair

Active Research Project
Thanh D. Nguyen, Ph.D.
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Last Updated: 
June 7, 2022

Award or Grant: National MS Society RR-1602-07671

The Nguyen Lab’s objective is to establish the association between lesion iron and subsequent myelin recovery in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The lab will develop quantitative and reliable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods including myelin water fraction (MWF) mapping and quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) to measure iron and myelin content in MS lesions. Iron is an essential element for oligodendrocyte function and myelin production. However, an abnormal iron increase in active lesions can amplify the oxidative damage to oligodendrocytes and lead to more demyelination. Accurate iron quantification by QSM in the white matter is difficult because both iron and myelin contribute to tissue susceptibility. The lab proposes a multi-parametric approach to separate the contribution of myelin to total susceptibility. The main component in this approach is the measurement of myelin using Fast Acquisition with Spiral Trajectory and T2prep (FAST-T2) sequence developed by our group. We will develop a microstructure-based reconstruction algorithm that jointly models both the FAST-T2 and QSM signals and uses a novel constrained data fitting method to compute lesion myelin and iron. The performance of this algorithm will be increased by data acquisition improvements to improve signal-to-noise (SNR) and motion robustness. These innovations in pulse sequence and algorithmic design will significantly improve the reliability and accuracy of lesion-based myelin and iron quantification, allowing us to study the interdependent relationship of these two entities and to begin to explore their influence on clinical relapse recovery. A successful outcome of this research will involve the establishment of conclusive evidence of the role of iron in myelin recovery, and provide a clinically viable imaging tool for mapping iron and myelination activity in MS.

Weill Cornell Medicine
Department of Radiology
525 East 68th Street New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6000