To prospectively determine whether diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) detects, differentiates and quantitates coexisting inflammation, demyelination, axonal injury and axon loss in mice with optic neuritis (ON) due to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and to determine if DBSI accurately measures effects of fingolimod on underlying pathology.
EAE was induced in 7-week-old C57BL/6 female mice. Visual acuity (VA) was assessed daily to detect onset of ON after which daily oral-treatment with either fingolimod (1 mg/kg) or saline was given for ten weeks. In vivo DBSI scans of optic nerves were performed at baseline, 2-, 6- and 10-weeks post treatment. DBSI-derived metrics including restricted isotropic diffusion tensor fraction (putatively reflecting cellularity), non-restricted isotropic diffusion tensor fraction (putatively reflecting vasogenic edema), DBSI-derived axonal volume, axial diffusivity, λ (putatively reflecting axonal integrity), and increased radial diffusivity, λ (putatively reflecting demyelination). Mice were killed immediately after the last DBSI scan for immunohistochemical assessment.
Optic nerves of fingolimod-treated mice exhibited significantly better (p  0.05) from the baseline values in fingolimod-treated mice. Transient DBSI-λ decrease and DBSI-λ increase were detected during Fingolimod treatment. DBSI-derived metrics assessed in vivo significantly correlated (p < 0.05) with the corresponding histological markers.
DBSI was used to assess changes of the underlying optic nerve pathologies in EAE mice with ON, exhibiting great potential as a noninvasive outcome measure for monitoring disease progression and therapeutic efficacy for MS.

Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.