Double pulsed field gradient diffusion MRI to assess skeletal muscle microstructure

D. B. Berry, V. L. Galinsky, E. B. Hutchinson, J. P. Galons, S. R. Ward, L. R. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Preliminary study to determine whether double pulsed field gradient (PFG) diffusion MRI is sensitive to key features of muscle microstructure related to function. Methods: The restricted diffusion profile of molecules in models of muscle microstructure derived from histology were systematically simulated using a numerical simulation approach. Diffusion tensor subspace imaging analysis of the diffusion signal was performed, and spherical anisotropy (SA) was calculated for each model. Linear regression was used to determine the predictive capacity of SA on the fiber area, fiber diameter, and surface area to volume ratio of the models. Additionally, a rat model of muscle hypertrophy was scanned using a single PFG and a double PFG pulse sequence, and the restricted diffusion measurements were compared with histological measurements of microstructure. Results: Excellent agreement between SA and muscle fiber area (r2 = 0.71; p < 0.0001), fiber diameter (r2 = 0.83; p < 0.0001), and surface area to volume ratio (r2 = 0.97; p < 0.0001) in simulated models was found. In a scanned rat leg, the distribution of these microstructural features measured from histology was broad and demonstrated that there is a wide variance in the microstructural features observed, similar to the SA distributions. However, the distribution of fractional anisotropy measurements in the same tissue was narrow. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that SA—a scalar value from diffusion tensor subspace imaging analysis—is highly sensitive to muscle microstructural features predictive of function. Furthermore, these techniques and analysis tools can be translated to real experiments in skeletal muscle. The increased dynamic range of SA compared with fractional anisotropy in the same tissue suggests increased sensitivity to detecting changes in tissue microstructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1582-1593
Number of pages12
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • diffusion anisotropy
  • diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
  • diffusion tensor subspace imaging (DiTSI)
  • double pulsed field gradient
  • skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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