Constructing an Axonal-Specific Myelin Developmental Graph and its Application to Childhood Absence Epilepsy

Gerhard S Drenthen, Eric L A Fonseca Wald, Walter H Backes, Albert P Aldenkamp, R Jeroen Vermeulen, Mariette H J A Debeij-van Hall, Sylvia Klinkenberg, Jacobus F A Jansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-314
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number3
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • AGE
  • Maturation
  • diffusion MRI
  • myelin-water
  • tractography
  • white matter


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