Objectives: To assess the sensitivities of magnetization transfer imaging (MTI)-derived measures in detecting changes over time of macro- and microscopic lesion burdens in different MS phenotypes and to compare them with those of T2-weighted and T1-weighted lesion volumes. Methods: A total of 96 patients were studied: 39 with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 19 with secondary progressive MS (SPMS), nine with primary progressive MS, and nine with benign MS; 20 with clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS at presentation; and 20 healthy subjects. Brain T2-weighted, T1-weighted, and MTI scans were obtained at baseline and after 12 months. The authors measured T2-weighted and T1-weighted lesion volumes and average lesion MT ratio (MTR). The authors also derived MTR histograms from whole brain tissue (WBT) and normal-appearing brain tissue (NABT). Results: In healthy control subjects, there was no significant change of any of the MTR histogram parameters. At follow-up, in the entire patient group, T2-weighted lesion volume significantly increased and average lesion MTR, WBT-MTR, NABT-MTR, and histogram peak positions significantly decreased. Patients with RRMS and SPMS had significantly higher changes in T2-weighted lesion volume and all the MTI-derived metrics compared with the other subgroups. MTI changes were more prominent (and significantly different) in patients with SPMS than in those with RRMS. Compared with patients with benign MS, patients with RRMS had significantly greater changes in T2-weighted lesion volume and WBT- and NABT-MTR metrics. Compared with patients with SPMS, patients with primary progressive MS had similar changes of T1-weighted and T2-weighted lesion volumes, but significantly lower changes of MTI-derived measures. Conclusions: MTI-derived measures are sensitive for detecting MS-related changes and might provide valuable outcome measures when assessing treatment effects in clinical trials of patients with MS.
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