Effects of MP2RAGE B1+ sensitivity on inter-site T1 reproducibility and hippocampal morphometry at 7T

Roy A.M. Haast, Jonathan C Lau, Dimo Ivanov, Ravi S Menon, Kâmil Uludağ, Ali R Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Most neuroanatomical studies are based on T1-weighted MR images, whose intensity profiles are not solely determined by the tissue's longitudinal relaxation times (T1), but also affected by varying non-T1 contributions, hampering data reproducibility. In contrast, quantitative imaging using the MP2RAGE sequence, for example, allows direct characterization of the brain based on the tissue property of interest. Combined with 7 Tesla (7T) MRI, this offers unique opportunities to obtain robust high-resolution brain data characterized by a high reproducibility, sensitivity and specificity. However, specific MP2RAGE parameter choices - e.g., to emphasize intracortical myelin-dependent contrast variations - can substantially impact image quality and cortical analyses through remnants of B1+-related intensity variations, as illustrated in our previous work. To follow up on this: we (1) validate this protocol effect using a dataset acquired with a particularly B1+ insensitive set of MP2RAGE parameters combined with parallel transmission excitation; and (2) extend our analyses to evaluate the effects on hippocampal morphometry. The latter remained unexplored initially, but can provide important insights related to generalizability and reproducibility of neurodegenerative research using 7T MRI. We confirm that B1+ inhomogeneities have a considerably variable effect on cortical T1 estimates, as well as on hippocampal morphometry depending on the MP2RAGE setup. While T1 differed substantially across datasets initially, we show the inter-site T1 comparability improves after correcting for the spatially varying B1+ field using a separately acquired Sa2RAGE B1+ map. Finally, removal of B1+ residuals affects hippocampal volumetry and boundary definitions, particularly near structures characterized by strong intensity changes (e.g. cerebral spinal fluid). Taken together, we show that the choice of MP2RAGE parameters can impact T1 comparability across sites and present evidence that hippocampal segmentation results are modulated by B1+ inhomogeneities. This calls for careful (1) consideration of sequence parameters when setting acquisition protocols, as well as (2) acquisition of a B1+ map to correct MP2RAGE data for potential B1+ variations to allow comparison across datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117373
Early online date16 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sep 2020

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