Magnetic susceptibility contrast variations in multiple sclerosis lesions

Xu Li, Daniel M. Harrison, Hongjun Liu, Craig K. Jones, Jiwon Oh, Peter A. Calabresi, Peter C.M. Van Zijl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose Recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have revealed heterogeneous magnetic susceptibility contrasts in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions. Due to its sensitivity to disease-related iron and myelin changes, magnetic susceptibility-based measures may better reflect some pathological features of MS lesions. Hence, we sought to characterize MS lesions using combined R2∗ mapping and quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). Materials and Methods In all, 306 MS lesions were selected from 24 MS patients who underwent 7T MRI. Maps of R2∗, frequency, and quantitative susceptibility were calculated using acquired multiecho gradient echo (GRE) phase data. Lesions were categorized based on their image intensity or their anatomical locations. R2∗ and susceptibility values were quantified in each lesion based on manually drawn lesion masks and compared between lesion groups showing different contrast patterns. Correlations between R2∗ and susceptibility were also tested in these lesion groups. Results In 38% of selected lesions the frequency map did not show the same contrast pattern as the susceptibility map. While most lesions (93%) showed hypointensity on R2∗, the susceptibility contrast in lesions varied, with 40% being isointense and 58% being hyperintense in the lesion core. Significant correlations (r = 0.31, P < 0.001) between R2∗ and susceptibility were found in susceptibility hyperintense lesions, but not in susceptibility isointense lesions. In addition, a higher proportion (74%) of periventricular lesions was found to be susceptibility hyperintense as compared to subcortical (53%) or juxtacortical (38%) lesions. Conclusion Combining R2∗ and QSM is useful to characterize heterogeneity in MS lesions. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;43:463-473.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • R
  • iron
  • lesion
  • multiple sclerosis
  • myelin
  • quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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