BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The process of myelination starts in utero around 20 weeks of gestation and continues through adulthood. We first set out to characterize the maturation of the tract-specific myelin content in healthy subjects from childhood (7-12 years) into adulthood (18-32 years). Second, we apply the resulting development graph to children with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), a pediatric epilepsy that was previously characterized by changes in myelin content.
METHODS: In a prospective cross-sectional study, 15 healthy children (7-12 years), 14 healthy adult participants (18-32 years) and 17 children with a clinical diagnosis of CAE (6-12 years) were included. For each participant, diffusion weighted images were acquired to reconstruct bundles of white matter tracts and multi-echo multi-slice GRASE images were acquired for myelin-water estimation. Subsequently, a tract-specific myelin development graph was constructed using the percentual difference in myelin-water content from childhood (12 year) to adulthood (25 year).
RESULTS: The graph revealed myelination patterns, where tracts in the central regions myelinate prior to peripheral tracts and intra-hemispheric tracts as well as tracts in the left hemisphere myelinate prior to inter-hemispheric tracts and tracts in the right hemisphere, respectively. No significant differences were found in myelin-water content between children with CAE and healthy children for neither the early developing tracts, nor the tracts that develop in a later stage. However, the difference between the myelin-water of late and early developing tracts is significantly smaller in the children with CAE.
CONCLUSION: These results indicate that CAE is associated with widespread neurodevelopmental myelin differences.
- RADIAL DIFFUSIVITY
- diffusion MRI
- white matter