Maryam Afzali^{1,2}, Tomasz Pieciak^{3}, Derek K Jones^{2}, Jürgen Schneider^{4,5}, and Evren Özarslan^{6,7}

^{1}Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom, ^{2}Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, ^{3}LPI, ETSI Telecomunicación, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain, ^{4}Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, Leeds, United Kingdom, ^{5}Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, ^{6}Department of Biomedical Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden, ^{7}Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

Diffusion MR is sensitive to the microstructural features of a sample. Fine-scale characteristics can be probed by employing strong diffusion gradients while the small gradient regime is determined by the cumulants of the distribution of particle displacements. However, the cumulant expansion suffers from a finite convergence radius and cannot represent the ‘localization regime’ that emerges at higher gradient strengths characterized by a stretched exponential dependence. Here, we propose a new representation for the diffusion MR signal. Our method provides not only a robust estimate of the first few cumulants but also a meaningful extrapolation of the signal decay.

We propose the following dMRI signal representation

$$E(q)=\exp\left(-(qr)^{2/3}\left((qu)^{\frac{4}{3}e^{-q^6p^6}}-(q v)^{\frac{10}{3}e^{-q^6p^6}}+(qw)^{\frac{16}{3}e^{-q^6 p^6}}\right)\right)\;\;\;\;\;\mathrm{(1)}$$

whose parameters are $$$r$$$, $$$u$$$, $$$v$$$, $$$w$$$, and $$$p$$$. The asymptotic (large-$$$q$$$) behaviour of this function is

$$E(q)=\exp\left(-(qr)^{2/3}+\mathcal{O}\left(q^{-4/3}\right)\right)\left((q u)^{\frac{4}{3} e^{-q^6p^6}}-(qv)^{\frac{10}{3}e^{-q^6p^6}}+(qw)^{\frac{16}{3} e^{-q^6 p^6}}\right) \label{eq:signal_high_q}$$

while at small $$$q$$$-values, it is given by

$$\ln{E}(q)=-q^2r^{2/3}u^{4/3}+q^4r^{2/3}v^{10/3}-q^6 r^{2/3} w^{16/3}+\mathcal{O}\left(q^8\right). $$

Clearly, $$$r$$$ determines the asymptotic behaviour. For a given $$$r$$$, $$$u$$$ determines the 2nd cumulant, $$$v$$$ determines the 4th cumulant and $$$w$$$ is related to higher order cumulants.

In this study, the representation in Eq. (1) is fitted to dMRI signals for two scenarios, namely, to orientationally-averaged signal

We used the experimental data from Figs. 4, 6, 7, 10 (a), and 10 (b) in

Two healthy participants were scanned using a 3T Connectom MR imaging system with a maximum gradient strength at $$$300\,\mathrm{mT}/\mathrm{m}$$$ (Siemens Healthineers, Erlangen, Germany). We used two acquisition protocols: 1) the first protocol comprised six $$$b=0$$$ and 11 non-zero shells at ($$$b = 0.4, \, 0.8, \, 1.2, \, 2, \, 3, \, 4, \, 6, \, 8, \,10,\,12,\,15 \; \mathrm{ms}/\mathrm{\mu}\mathrm{m}^2$$$) along $$$\left( 16, \, 16, \, 21, \, 31, \, 21, \, 21, \, 31, \, 31, \, 31, \, 31, \, 46 \right)$$$ gradient directions, respectively

The result of fitting the proposed representation to data from cortical gray matter and white matter voxels in

Fig. 3 shows the estimated parameters ($$$r$$$, $$$u$$$, $$$v$$$, $$$w$$$) of the representation for both orientationally-averaged and single-direction signals.

We extracted the apparent diffusion coefficient and kurtosis using DKI and the low-q approximation of our proposed representation. A good agreement between the maps from DKI and our proposed method is observed as illustrated in Fig. 4.

The effect of $$$b_\mathrm{max}$$$ and sampling of $$$b$$$-value on the estimated parameters ($$$r,u,v,w$$$) of the proposed representation is shown in Fig. 5. Reducing the maximum b-value to $$$b_{max}=8 ms/\mu m ^2$$$ does not change the maps considerably indicating the robustness of the representation while the change in the parameter maps is more significant if we use a subsample of six non-zero b-values ($$$b = 0, 0.8, 2, 4, 6, 10, 13 ms/\mu m^2$$$).

This project was financially supported by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (RMX18-0056), Linköping University Center for Industrial Information Technology (CENIIT), LiU Cancer, Sweden's Innovation Agency (VINNOVA) ASSIST, and Analytic Imaging Diagnostic Arena (AIDA). This research was funded in whole, or in part, by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award (219536/Z/19/Z, 096646/Z/11/Z) and a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (104943/Z/14/Z). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. This work was also supported by the British Heart Foundation, UK (SI/14/1/30718), EPSRC (EP/M029778/1), and The Wolfson Foundation. Tomasz Pieciak acknowledges the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange for the grant PN/BEK/2019/1/00421 under the Bekker programme and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Poland) under the scholarship for outstanding young scientists (692/STYP/13/2018).

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Fig. 1: The result of fitting the proposed representation to the experimental data from Fig. 4, 6, 7, 10 (a), and 10 (b) in Moutal et al.'s work^{9}.

Fig. 2: The result of fitting the proposed representation to the data from (a) cortical gray matter and (b) white matter voxels in^{11}.

Fig. 3: Estimated parameters $$$\left( r, u, v, w \right)$$$ of the representation for the orientationally-averaged (first row) as well as the single-direction signal (second row).

Fig. 4: Estimated apparent diffusion coefficient and kurtosis using DKI (first row) and our proposed representation (second row) for both orientationally-averaged and single-direction scenarios.

Fig. 5: The effect of $$$b_\mathrm{max}$$$ and sampling of $$$b$$$-value on the estimated parameters $$$\left( r, u, v, w \right)$$$ of the proposed representation. First row shows the estimated parameters using all the samples. Second row provides the estimates for $$$b_\mathrm{max} \leq 8 ms/\mu m^2$$$ and the third row shows the results for fitting the signal representation to $$$b = 0, 0.8, 2, 4, 6, 10, 13 ms/\mu m^2$$$.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.58530/2022/3294