Anisotropic mechanical properties in the healthy human brain estimated with multi-excitation transversely isotropic MR elastography

Daniel R. Smith, Diego A. Caban-Rivera, Matthew D.J. McGarry, L. Tyler Williams, Grace McIlvain, Ruth J. Okamoto, Elijah E.W. Van Houten, Philip V. Bayly, Keith D. Paulsen, Curtis L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an MRI technique for imaging the mechanical properties of brain in vivo, and has shown differences in properties between neuroanatomical regions and sensitivity to aging, neurological disorders, and normal brain function. Past MRE studies investigating these properties have typically assumed the brain is mechanically isotropic, though the aligned fibers of white matter suggest an anisotropic material model should be considered for more accurate parameter estimation. Here we used a transversely isotropic, nonlinear inversion algorithm (TI-NLI) and multi-excitation MRE to estimate the anisotropic material parameters of individual white matter tracts in healthy young adults. We found significant differences between individual tracts for three recovered anisotropic parameters: substrate shear stiffness, μ (range: 2.57 – 3.02 kPa), shear anisotropy, φ (range: -0.026 – 0.164), and tensile anisotropy, ζ (range: 0.559 – 1.049). Additionally, we demonstrated the repeatability of these parameter estimates in terms of lower variability of repeated measures in a single subject relative to variability in our sample population. Further, we observed significant differences in anisotropic mechanical properties between segments of the corpus callosum (genu, body, and splenium), which is expected based on differences in axonal microstructure. This study shows the ability of MRE with TI-NLI to estimate anisotropic mechanical properties of white matter and presents reference properties for tracts throughout the healthy brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100051
JournalBrain Multiphysics
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Anisotropy
  • Brain
  • Magnetic Resonance Elastography
  • Stiffness
  • White Matter


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