Emerging Functional MRI Technology May Help with Early Diagnosis of Lupus
Researchers explored the clinical characteristics, imaging changes and early diagnostic methods of neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE) using a novel type of functional MRI (fMRI) called 3D arterial spin labeling (3D-ASL). The study’s findings demonstrate how this new specialized technology may support earlier disease prediction and diagnosis of NPSLE.
3D-ASL is a fMRI method currently used to evaluate other nervous system diseases which involve cerebrovascular lesions, brain lesions and brain tumors. It uses water in arterial blood to see and assess cerebral blood flow (CBF). Being able to measure CBF is important, because if there is abnormal blood flow in people with NPSLE, then CBF could help to show how NPSLE develops and provide a diagnostic basis for early intervention.
This study examined and compared the brain images of people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) to those with NPSLE using 3D-ASL and found the method effectively detected brain lesions in people with SLE and was able to show obvious differences between different areas of the brain. Lesions were more numerous in the NPSLE group than the SLE group, with frontal lobe blood flow significantly decreased in people with NPSLE. These results indicate that CBF assessment using 3D-ASL may offer a way to improve the early diagnosis of NPSLE.
Early diagnosis and disease prediction would be of great importance in the prevention and treatment of NPSLE. The Lupus Foundation of America has funded important research in this area and will continue to follow further efforts exploring the use of 3D-ASL in NPSLE treatment and diagnosis. Learn more about how lupus affects the nervous system.