Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Cortical Pathology From a Neuroanatomical Perspective: Laminar Quantitative MRI Analysis of Cortical Neuroinflammation

Start Term
End Term
March 31, 2022
Funding Amount
McGill University
Geographic Region(s) / Province(s)
Research Priorities
Impact Goal(s)
Advance Treatment and Care

Summary: MS is often characterized by the damage (or lesions) in the brain and spinal cord. One type of MS lesion particularly widespread is called a "sub-pial" cortical lesion. It lies along the surface of the brain. This research team is developing improved methods to detect "sub-pial" lesions using a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique (called myelin-sensitive MRI). While standard MRI details images of soft tissue in the body and can detect lesions in the brain, it can only see a fraction of the underlying damage that occurs in MS, and is therefore not very effective in tracking MS progression. This research aims to refine this imaging method to understand how sub-pial brain tissue damage develops over time and relates to clinical outcomes.

Project Description: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is described as a multi-focal demyelinating disease of white matter. Sub-pial cortical lesion load in early stage MS may be associated with progressive disability. This group is developing better imaging techniques that can effectively detect these types of lesions. This research aims to develop a series of reproducible multi-contrast measures of cortical surface demyelination using advanced MRI (3 T and 7 T MRI). It will help to identify the exact pathological role of these lesions in MS by following a group of people with MS at different stages to see when lesions form and how they relate to clinical and cognitive tests. The results have the potential to be translated into improved clinical diagnoses and more effective therapy administration.

Potential Impact:  The proposed study has the potential to better estimate the portion of previously invisible tissue damage that occurs on the surface of the brain in people living with MS. The research will help provide a new window into how doctors can use MRI to identify brain tissue damage in MS to support diagnosis and a better understanding of progression. It will also help to introduce new measures or markers of disease for testing drug therapies. 

Project Status: In progress