Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2013

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Optic neuritis (ON) is an early manifestation in patients of multiple sclerosis (MS), typically resulting in visual dysfunction. The inflammatory demyelination of the optic nerve in ON closely resembles pathologies of the rest of central nervous system (CNS) white matter in MS. Since accumulated axonal degeneration in MS was considered as the potential cause leading to permanent disability, correlating optic nerve pathology and visual function in ON could be a model system to investigate the relationship between functional outcome and neuropathology. It may also present a new way to reflect the disease progression in MS. Various MR techniques have been used to assess inflammation (inflammatory cell infiltration and vasogenic edema) of ON, but rarely demonstrated the ability to image cellularity changes non-invasively. Diffusion MRI measures the Brownian motion of water molecules in the microstructure of biological tissues. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) holds the promise to provide a specific biomarker of axonal injury and demyelination in CNS white matter by axial diffusivity (the diffusion parallel to white matter fibers) and radial diffusivity (the diffusion perpendicular to white matter fibers), respectively. However, DTI assumes a single diffusion tensor model and thus takes an average of varied diffusion components. In contrast, our recently developed diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) resolves the complex diffusion components and provides relatively accurate directional diffusivities and diffusion component fractions, relating to the detail and accurate pathological picture of the disease or injury. In the current work, in vivo 25-direction DBSI was applied to the optic nerve of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS, with visual impairment at onset of ON. Our results demonstrate that inflammation correlated well with visual impairment in acute ON. DBSI successfully detected inflammatory cell infiltration and optic nerve white matter pathology in EAE that was consistent with histology, supporting the capability of DBSI to quantify increased cellularity, axonal injury and myelin damage in the optic nerve of EAE mice.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Joseph J. H. Ackerman, Sheng-Kwei Song

Committee Members

Anne H. Cross, Dewey Holten, Joshua Maurer, Liviu Mirica


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