The aim of this study was to study focal cerebellar pathology in early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) using ultra-high-field magnetization-prepared 2 inversion-contrast rapid gradient-echo (7T MP2RAGE).Materials and Methods
Twenty early-stage relapsing-remitting MS patients underwent an MP2RAGE acquisition at 7 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (images acquired at 2 different resolutions: 0.58 × 0.58 × 0.58 mm3, 7T_0.58, and 0.75 × 0.75 × 0.90 mm3, 7T_0.75) and 3 T MRI (1.0 × 1.0 × 1.2 mm3, 3T_1.0). Total cerebellar lesion load and volume and mean cerebellar lesion volume were compared across images using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Mean T1 relaxation times in lesions and normal-appearing tissue as well as contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) measurements were also compared using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. A multivariate analysis was applied to assess the contribution of MRI metrics to clinical performance in MS patients.Results
Both 7T_0.58 and 7T_0.75 MP2RAGE showed significantly higher lesion load compared with 3T_1.0 MP2RAGE (P < 0.001). Plaques that were judged as leukocortical in 7T_0.75 and 3T_1.0 MP2RAGEs were instead identified as WM lesions in 7T_0.58 MP2RAGE. Cortical lesion CNR was significantly higher in MP2RAGEs at 7 T than at 3 T. Total lesion load as well as total and mean lesion volume obtained at both 7 T and 3 T MP2RAGE significantly predicted attention (P < 0.05, adjusted R2 = 0.5), verbal fluency (P < 0.01, adjusted R2 = 0.6), and motor performance (P = 0.01, adjusted R2 = 0.7).Conclusions
This study demonstrates the value of 7 T MP2RAGE to study the cerebellum in early MS patients. 7T_0.58 MP2RAGE provides a more accurate anatomical description of white and gray matter pathology compared with 7T_0.75 and 3T_1.0 MP2RAGE, likely due to the improved spatial resolution, lower partial volume effects, and higher CNR.