Fiber-orientation independent component of R(2)* obtained from single-orientation MRI measurements in simulations and a post-mortem human optic chiasm


  • F.J. Fritz
  • L. Mordhorst
  • M. Ashtarayeh
  • J. Periquito
  • A. Pohlmann
  • M. Morawski
  • C. Jaeger
  • T. Niendorf
  • K.J. Pine
  • M.F. Callaghan
  • N. Weiskopf
  • S. Mohammadi


  • Frontiers in Neuroscience


  • Front Neurosci 17: 1133086


  • The effective transverse relaxation rate (R(2)*) is sensitive to the microstructure of the human brain like the g-ratio which characterises the relative myelination of axons. However, the fibre-orientation dependence of R(2)* degrades its reproducibility and any microstructural derivative measure. To estimate its orientation-independent part (R(2,iso)*) from single multi-echo gradient-recalled-echo (meGRE) measurements at arbitrary orientations, a second-order polynomial in time model (hereafter M2) can be used. Its linear time-dependent parameter, β(1), can be biophysically related to R(2,iso)* when neglecting the myelin water (MW) signal in the hollow cylinder fibre model (HCFM). Here, we examined the performance of M2 using experimental and simulated data with variable g-ratio and fibre dispersion. We found that the fitted β(1) can estimate R(2,iso)* using meGRE with long maximum-echo time (TE(max) ≈ 54 ms), but not accurately captures its microscopic dependence on the g-ratio (error 84%). We proposed a new heuristic expression for β(1) that reduced the error to 12% for ex vivo compartmental R(2) values. Using the new expression, we could estimate an MW fraction of 0.14 for fibres with negligible dispersion in a fixed human optic chiasm for the ex vivo compartmental R(2) values but not for the in vivo values. M2 and the HCFM-based simulations failed to explain the measured R(2)*-orientation-dependence around the magic angle for a typical in vivo meGRE protocol (with TE(max) ≈ 18 ms). In conclusion, further validation and the development of movement-robust in vivo meGRE protocols with TE(max) ≈ 54 ms are required before M2 can be used to estimate R(2,iso)* in subjects.