Quantitative T2* (T2 star) relaxation times predict site specific proteoglycan content and residual mechanics of the intervertebral disc throughout degeneration

Arin M. Ellingson, Tina M. Nagel, David W. Polly, Jutta Ellermann, David J. Nuckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Degeneration alters the biochemical composition of the disc, affecting the mechanical integrity leading to spinal instability. Quantitative T2* MRI probes water mobility within the macromolecular network, a potentially more sensitive assessment of disc health. We determined the relationship between T2* relaxation time and proteoglycan content, collagen content, and compressive mechanics throughout the degenerative spectrum. Eighteen human cadaveric lumbar (L4-L5) discs were imaged using T2* MRI. The T2* relaxation time at five locations (nucleous pulposus or NP, anterior annulus fibrosis or AF, posterior AF, inner AF, and outer AF) was correlated with sulfated-glycosaminoglycan (s-GAG) content, hydroxyproline content, and residual stress and strain at each location. T2* relaxation times were significantly correlated with s-GAG contents in all test locations and were particularly strong in the NP (r-=-0.944; p-<-0.001) and inner AF (r-=-0.782; p-<-0.001). T2* relaxation times were also significantly correlated with both residual stresses and excised strains in the NP (r-=-0.857; p-<-0.001: r-=-0.816; p-<-0.001), inner AF (r-=-0.535; p-=-0.022: r-=-0.516; p-=-0.028), and outer AF (r-=-0.668; p-=-0.002: r-=-0.458; p-=-0.041). These strong correlations highlight T2* MRI's ability to predict the biochemical and mechanical health of the disc. T2* MRI assessment of disc health is a clinically viable tool showing promise as a biomarker for distinguishing degenerative changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1089
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Volume32
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • (T2 star)
  • T2
  • biomechanics
  • disc degeneration
  • proteoglycan
  • quantitative magnetic resonance imaging

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