ABSTRACT: Measurement of tissue spin lattice relaxation time (T(1)) has been used to characterize brain development in healthy children. Here we report the first study of brain T(1) in young children with sickle cell disease (SCD). The T(1) in 10 tissue samples was measured by established techniques; 46 SCD patients under the age of 4 years were compared to 267 controls, including 55 well children under the age of 4 years. A model was developed to predict the relationship between age and brain T(1) in controls, then we compared patient T(1) to healthy normal T(1). Most white matter and gray matter tissues in infant patients (<2 years old), had T(1) values significantly higher than normal. For example, 15.0% of patient caudate T(1) values were above the upper bound of the 95% confidence interval for controls, but only 2.5% of normal values are expected to be this high (p = 0.0003). Among infant patients, brain T(1) was significantly higher than normal in every tissue (p < 0.01) except cortical gray matter. However, patient T(1) values declined rapidly to values lower than normal by about age 4. Our findings imply that patients follow an abnormal developmental trajectory beginning early in infancy.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging 04/2004; 22(3):299-306. · 1.99 Impact Factor