Statistical estimation of white matter microstructure from conventional MRI

Leah H. Suttner, Amanda Mejia, Blake Dewey, Pascal Sati, Daniel S. Reich, Russell T. Shinohara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has become the predominant modality for studying white matter integrity in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders. Unfortunately, the use of DTI-based biomarkers in large multi-center studies is hindered by systematic biases that confound the study of disease-related changes. Furthermore, the site-to-site variability in multi-center studies is significantly higher for DTI than that for conventional MRI-based markers. In our study, we apply the Quantitative MR Estimation Employing Normalization (QuEEN) model to estimate the four DTI measures: MD, FA, RD, and AD. QuEEN uses a voxel-wise generalized additive regression model to relate the normalized intensities of one or more conventional MRI modalities to a quantitative modality, such as DTI. We assess the accuracy of the models by comparing the prediction error of estimated DTI images to the scan-rescan error in subjects with two sets of scans. Across the four DTI measures, the performance of the models is not consistent: Both MD and RD estimations appear to be quite accurate, while AD estimation is less accurate than MD and RD; the accuracy of FA estimation is poor. Thus, in some cases when assessing white matter integrity, it may be sufficient to acquire conventional MRI sequences alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-623
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2016


  • Image synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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