MRI characteristics of the glia limitans externa: A 7T study

Kiyotaka Suzuki, Kenichi Yamada, Kazunori Nakada, Yuji Suzuki, Masaki Watanabe, Ingrid Kwee, Tsutomu Nakada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose To perform a systematic analysis of the intrinsic contrast parameters of the FLAIR hyperintense rim (FHR), a thin layer of high intensity covering the entire surface of the cerebral cortex detected on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequence T2 weighted imaging performed on a 7T system, in an attempt to identify its anatomical correlate. Methods Fast spin echo inversion recovery (FSE-IR) and cardiac-gated fast spin echo (FSE) images were obtained with defined parameters in eight normal volunteers on a 7 T MRI system to determine T2 and proton density, T1 characteristics. K-means clustering analysis of parameter sets was performed using MATLAB version R2015b for the purpose of identifying the cluster reflecting FHR. The results were subsequently confirmed by independent component analysis (ICA) based on T1 behavior on FSE-IR using a MATLAB script of FastICA algorithm. Results The structure giving rise to FHR was found to have a unique combination of intrinsic contrast parameters of low proton density, long T2, and disproportionally short T1. The findings are in strong agreement with the functional and structural specifics of the glia limitans externa (GLE), a structure composed of snuggled endfeet of astrocytes containing abundant aquaporin-4 (AQP-4), the main water channel of the brain. Conclusion Intrinsic contrast parameters of FHR reflect structural and functional specifics of the GLE, and their values are highly dependent on the physiologic functionality of AQP-4. Microscopic imaging on a 7T system and analysis of GLE contrast parameters can be developed into a method for evaluating AQP-4 functionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • AQP-4
  • ICA
  • k-means clustering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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