Longitudinal assessment of magnetization transfer ratio, brain volume, and cognitive functions in diffuse axonal injury

Fabiola Bezerra de Carvalho Macruz, Fabrício Stewan Feltrin, Ana Zaninotto, Vinícius Monteiro de Paula Guirado, Maria Concepcion Garcia Otaduy, Miriam Harumi Tsunemi, Mariana Penteado Nucci, Carolina Rimkus, Celi Santos Andrade, Claudia da Costa Leite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a frequent mechanism of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that triggers a sequence of parenchymal changes that progresses from focal axonal shear injuries up to inflammatory response and delayed axonal disconnection. Objective: The main purpose of this study is to evaluate changes in the axonal/myelinic content and the brain volume up to 12 months after TBI and to correlate these changes with neuropsychological results. Methods: Patients with DAI (n = 25) were scanned at three time points after trauma (2, 6, and 12 months), and the total brain volume (TBV), gray matter volume, and white matter volume (WMV) were calculated in each time point. The magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) for the total brain (TB MTR), gray matter (GM MTR), and white matter (WM MTR) was also quantified. In addition, Hopkins verbal learning test (HVLT), Trail Making Test (TMT), and Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure test were performed at 6 and 12 months after the trauma. Results: There was a significant reduction in the mean TBV, WMV, TB MTR, GM MTR, and WM MTR between time points 1 and 3 (p <.05). There was also a significant difference in HVLT-immediate, TMT-A, and TMT-B scores between time points 2 and 3. The MTR decline correlated more with the cognitive dysfunction than the volume reduction. Conclusion: A progressive axonal/myelinic rarefaction and volume loss were characterized, especially in the white matter (WM) up to 1 year after the trauma. Despite that, specific neuropsychological tests revealed that patients’ episodic verbal memory, attention, and executive function improved during the study. The current findings may be valuable in developing long-term TBI rehabilitation management programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2490
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • axonal/myelinic damage
  • brain atrophy
  • diffuse axonal injury
  • magnetization transfer imaging
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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