• Blood-brain barrier breakdown in non-enhancing multiple sclerosis lesions detected by 7-Tesla MP2RAGE ΔT1 mapping.

      Choi, Seongjin; Spini, Margaret; Hua, Jun; Harrison, Daniel M (Public Library of Science, 2021-04-26)
      Although the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is altered in most multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions, gadolinium enhancement is seen only in acute lesions. In this study, we aimed to investigate gadolinium-induced changes in T1 relaxation time in MS lesions on 7-tesla (7T) MRI as a means to quantify BBB breakdown in non-enhancing MS lesions. Forty-seven participants with MS underwent 7T MRI of the brain with a magnitude-prepared rapid acquisition of 2 gradient echoes (MP2RAGE) sequence before and after contrast. Subtraction of pre- and post-contrast T1 maps was used to measure T1 relaxation time change (ΔT1) from gadolinium. ΔT1 values were interrogated in enhancing white matter lesions (ELs), non-enhancing white matter lesions (NELs), and normal appearing white matter (NAWM) and metrics were compared to clinical data. ΔT1 was measurable in NELs (median: -0.139 (-0.304, 0.174) seconds; p < 0.001) and was negligible in NAWM (median: -0.001 (-0.036, 0.155) seconds; p = 0.516). Median ΔT1 in NELs correlated with disability as measured by Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) (rho = -0.331, p = 0.026). Multiple measures of NEL ΔT1 variability also correlated with EDSS. NEL ΔT1 values were greater and more variable in patients with progressive forms of MS and greater in those not on MS treatment. Measurement of the changes in T1 relaxation time caused by contrast on 7T MP2RAGE reveals clinically relevant evidence of BBB breakdown in NELs in MS. This data suggests that NEL ΔT1 should be evaluated further as a biomarker for disease severity and treatment effect in MS.