MR techniques are sensitive to the early stages of osteoarthritis, characterized by disruption of collagen and loss of proteoglycan (PG), but are of limited specificity. Here, water compartments in normal and trypsin-degraded bovine nasal cartilage were identified using a nonnegative least squares rmultiexponential analysis of T2 relaxation. Three components were detected: T2,1 = 2, 3 ms, T2,2 = 25.2 ms, and T 2,3 = 96.3 ms, with fractions w1 = 8.2%, w2 = 14.5%, and w3 = 79.3%, respectively. Trypsinization resulted in increased (P < 0.01) values of T2,2 = 64.2 ms and T2,3 = 149.4 ms, supporting their assignment to water compartments that are bound and loosely associated with PG, respectively. The T2 of the rapidly relaxing component was not altered by digestion, supporting assignment to relatively immobile collagen-bound water. Relaxation data were simulated for a range of TE, number of echoes, and SNR to guide selection of acquisition parameters and assess the accuracy and precision of experimental results. Based on this, the expected experimental accuracy of measured T2s and associated weights was within 2% and 4% respectively, with precision within 1 % and 3%. These results demonstrate the potential of multiexponential T 2 analysis to increase the specificity of MR characterization of cartilage.
- Macromolecular compartments
- Magnetic resonance
- Spin-spin relaxation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging