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Active inflammation increases the heterogeneity of MRI texture in mice with relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis

Zhang, Y;Wells, J;Buist, R;Peeling, J;Yong, VW;Mitchell, JR;

Inflammation modulates tissue damage in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) both acutely and chronically, but its severity is difficult to evaluate with conventional MRI analysis. In mice with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE, a model of MS), we administered ultra small particles of iron oxide to track macrophage-mediated inflammation during the onset (relapse) and recovery (remission) of disease activity using high field MRI. We performed MRI texture analysis, a sensitive measure of tissue regularity, and T2 assessment both in EAE lesions and the control tissue, and measured spinal cord volume. We found that inflammation was 3 times more remarkable at onset than at recovery of EAE in histology yet demyelination appeared similar across animals and disease course. In MRI, lesion texture was more heterogeneous; T2 was lower; and spinal cord volume was greater in EAE than in controls, but only MRI texture was worse at relapse than at remission of EAE. Moreover, MRI texture correlated with spinal cord volume and tended to correlate with the extent of disability in EAE. While subject to further confirmation, our findings may suggest the sensitivity of MRI texture analysis for accessing inflammation.