Iron-Insensitive Quantitative Assessment of Subcortical Gray Matter Demyelination in Multiple Sclerosis Using the Macromolecular Proton Fraction.

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Fast macromolecular proton fraction mapping is a recent quantitative MR imaging method for myelin assessment. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the macromolecular proton fraction as a measure of demyelination in subcortical GM structures in multiple sclerosis and assess a potential relationship between demyelination and excess iron deposition using the macromolecular proton fraction and T2* mapping.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Macromolecular proton fraction and T2* maps were obtained from 12 healthy controls, 18 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, and 12 patients with secondary-progressive MS using 3T MR imaging. Parameter values in the caudate nucleus, globus pallidus, putamen, substantia nigra, and thalamus were compared between groups and correlated to clinical data.

RESULTS: The macromolecular proton fraction in all subcortical structures and T2* in the globus pallidus, putamen, and caudate nucleus demonstrated a significant monotonic decrease from controls to patients with relapsing-remitting MS and from those with relapsing-remitting MS to patients with secondary-progressive MS. The macromolecular proton fraction in all subcortical structures significantly correlated with the Expanded Disability Status Scale and MS Functional Composite scores with absolute Pearson correlation coefficient (

CONCLUSIONS: The macromolecular proton fraction provides an iron-insensitive measure of demyelination. Myelin loss in subcortical GM structures in MS is unrelated to excess iron deposition. Subcortical GM demyelination is more closely associated with the disease phenotype and disability than iron overload.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)