Whole brain g-ratio mapping using myelin water imaging (MWI) and neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI)

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Abstract

MR g-ratio, which measures the ratio of the aggregate volume of axons to that of fibers in a voxel, is a potential biomarker for white matter microstructures. In this study, a new approach for acquiring an in-vivo whole human brain g-ratio map is proposed. To estimate the g-ratio, myelin volume fraction and axonal volume fraction are acquired using multi-echo gradient echo myelin water imaging (GRE-MWI) and neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI), respectively. In order to translate myelin water fraction measured in GRE-MWI into myelin volume fraction, a new scaling procedure is proposed and validated. This scaling approach utilizes geometric measures of myelin structure and, therefore, provides robustness over previous methods. The resulting g-ratio map reveals an expected range of g-ratios (0.71–0.85 in major fiber bundles) with a small inter-subject coefficient of variance (less than 2%). Additionally, a few fiber bundles (e.g. cortico-spinal tract and optic radiation) show different constituents of myelin volume fraction and axonal volume fraction, indicating potentials to utilize the measures for deciphering fiber tracking.

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