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, it some cases when assessing white matter integrity, it may sufficient to acquire conventional MRI sequences alone.
Suttner, Leah; Mejia, Amanda; Dewey, Blake; Sati, Pascal; Reich, Daniel S.; and Shinohara, Russell T., "Statistical estimation of white matter microstructure from conventional MRI" (December 2015). UPenn Biostatistics Working Papers. Working Paper 44.