From micro- to macro-structures in multiple sclerosis: What is the added value of diffusion imaging

Mara Cercignani, Claudia Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffusion imaging has been instrumental in understanding damage to the central nervous system as a result of its sensitivity to microstructural changes. Clinical applications of diffusion imaging have grown exponentially over the past couple of decades in many neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). For several reasons, MS has been extensively researched using advanced neuroimaging techniques, which makes it an 'example disease' to illustrate the potential of diffusion imaging for clinical applications. In addition, MS pathology is characterized by several key processes competing with each other, such as inflammation, demyelination, remyelination, gliosis and axonal loss, enabling the specificity of diffusion to be challenged. In this review, we describe how diffusion imaging can be exploited to investigate micro-, meso- and macro-scale properties of the brain structure and discuss how they are affected by different pathological substrates. Conclusions from the literature are that larger studies are needed to confirm the exciting results from initial investigations before current trends in diffusion imaging can be translated to the neurology clinic. Also, for a comprehensive understanding of pathological processes, it is essential to take a multiple-level approach, in which information at the micro-, meso- and macroscopic scales is fully integrated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 25 2017


  • Diffusion MRI
  • Functional system
  • Graph theory
  • Microstructure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Structural connectome
  • Tissue model
  • Tractography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'From micro- to macro-structures in multiple sclerosis: What is the added value of diffusion imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this