The microstructure changes associated with degeneration of spinal axons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be reflected in altered water diffusion properties, potentially detectable with diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI. Prior work revealed the classical mono-exponential model fails to precisely depict decay in DW signal at high b-values. In this study, we aim to investigate signal decay behaviors at ultra-high b-values for non-invasive assessment of spinal cord alterations in the transgenic SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS. A multiexponential diffusion analysis using regularized non-negative least squares (rNNLS) algorithm was applied to a series of thirty DW MR images with b-values ranging from 0 to 858,022 s/ mm2 on ex vivo spinal cords of transgenic SOD1G93A and age-matched control mice. We compared the distributions of measured diffusion coefficient fractions between the groups. The measured diffusion weighted signals in log-scale showed non-linear decay behaviors with increased b-values. Faster signal decays were observed with diffusion gradients applied parallel to the long axis of the spinal cord compared to when oriented in the transverse direction. Multiexponential analysis at the lumbar level in the spinal cord identified ten subintervals. A significant decrease of diffusion coefficient fractions was found in the ranges of [1.63×10−8,3.70×10−6] mm2/s (P = 0.0002) and of [6.01×10−6,4.20×10−5] mm2/s (P = 0.0388) in SOD1G93A mice. Anisotropic diffusion signals persisted at ultra-high b-value DWIs of the mouse spinal cord and multiexponential diffusion analysis offers the potential to evaluate microstructural alterations of ALS-affected spinal cord non-invasively.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)