Scientific Reports (Jan 2021)

An atlas for human brain myelin content throughout the adult life span

  • Adam V. Dvorak,
  • Taylor Swift-LaPointe,
  • Irene M. Vavasour,
  • Lisa Eunyoung Lee,
  • Shawna Abel,
  • Bretta Russell-Schulz,
  • Carina Graf,
  • Anika Wurl,
  • Hanwen Liu,
  • Cornelia Laule,
  • David K. B. Li,
  • Anthony Traboulsee,
  • Roger Tam,
  • Lara A. Boyd,
  • Alex L. MacKay,
  • Shannon H. Kolind

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


Read online

Abstract Myelin water imaging is a quantitative neuroimaging technique that provides the myelin water fraction (MWF), a metric highly specific to myelin content, and the intra-/extra-cellular T2 (IET2), which is related to water and iron content. We coupled high-resolution data from 100 adults with gold-standard methodology to create an optimized anatomical brain template and accompanying MWF and IET2 atlases. We then used the MWF atlas to characterize how myelin content relates to demographic factors. In most brain regions, myelin content followed a quadratic pattern of increase during the third decade of life, plateau at a maximum around the fifth decade, then decrease during later decades. The ranking of mean myelin content between brain regions remained consistent across age groups. These openly available normative atlases can facilitate evaluation of myelin imaging results on an individual basis and elucidate the distribution of myelin content between brain regions and in the context of aging.