Neuroinflammation Imaging Lab at UCLouvain

Neuroinflammation imaging lab

The Louvain Neuroinflammation Imaging Lab (NIL)

The activity of the Louvain Neuroinflammation Imaging Lab (NIL) focuses on several projects, all aimed at characterizing and modeling the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) using advances magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods.

The standard MRI protocols routinely used for MS diagnosis have a limited specificity for the underlying brain pathology, possibly resulting in wrong diagnosis and incorrect treatments for patients. At the same time, using the same routine imaging protocols, the pathological heterogeneity of what is currently diagnosed as "MS" is probably underestimated, limiting the application of MRI as a tool to guide individually tailored treatment. The major goal of our research is to combine advanced and more established imaging, laboratory and clinical data in order i) to "dissect" the pathological heterogeneity between MS and mimicking disorders, ii) identify different pathological entities within the "MS spectrum" itself and, iii) evaluate clinical course/response-to-treatment based on the extracted multimodal features.

Thanks to the very productive collaboration between highly experienced clinicians (at Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc), talented neuroimaging scientists (NEUR, Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), UCLouvain) and neuroimmunologists (CEMO, Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), UCLouvain), we perform advanced MRI on neuroinflammatory patients, and we study the association between imaging, clinical and biological disease biomarkers.


Pietro Maggi
2021-present, principal investigator

Colin Vanden Bulke
2021-present, PhD student

Maxence Wynen
2021-present, PhD student

Anna Stölting
2022-present, PhD student

Serena Borrelli
2023-present, PhD student

François Guisset
2023-present, visiting fellow

Main research collaborations outside UCLouvain

Renaud du Pasquier, MD, Head of the Department of Neurology, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne (CH)
Topic: neuroimmunology and biomarkers.

Meritxell Bach Cuadra PhD, Director, Medical Image Analysis Laboratory, University of Lausanne, Lausanne (CH)
Topic: machine learning techniques.

Daniel S. Reich, MD, PhD Chief, Translational Neuroradiology Section/NINDS/NIH, Bethesda (US)
Topic: advanced MRI diagnostic biomarkers.

Martina Absinta, MD, PhD, San Raffaele University Hospital, Milan (IT)
Topic: advanced MRI diagnostic biomarkers.

Selected publications

Maggi P, Macri SM, Gaitán MI, Leibovitch E, Wholer JE, Knight HL, Ellis M, Wu T, Silva AC, Massacesi L, Jacobson S, Westmoreland S, Reich DS. The formation of inflammatory demyelinated lesions in cerebral white matter. Annals of neurology. 2014;76(4):594-608. (I.F. 11,05)

Maggi P, Absinta M, Grammatico M, Vuolo L, Emmi G, Carlucci G, Spagni G, Barilaro A, Repice AM, Emmi L, Prisco D, Martinelli V, Scotti R, Sadeghi N, Perrotta G, Sati P, Dachy B, Reich DS, Filippi M, Massacesi L. Central vein sign differentiates Multiple Sclerosis from central nervous system inflammatory vasculopathies. Annals of neurology. 2018;83(2):283-294. doi:10.1002/ana.25146. (I.F. 9,55)

Maggi P, Kuhle J, Schädelin S, van der Meer F, Weigel M, Mathias A, Lu PJ, Rahmanzadeh R, Benkert P, La Rosa F, Bach Cuadra M, Sati P, Théaudin M, Pot C, van Pesch V, Leppert D, Stadelmann C, Kappos L, Du Pasquier R, Reich DS, Absinta M, Granziera C. Association of chronic white matter inflammation and neurofilament levels in patients with multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 2021 Jun 4;10.1212/WNL.0000000000012326. (2019 I.F. 8,77)

Maggi P, Sati P, Cortese I, Jacobson S, Smith BR, Nath A, Ohayon J, van Pesch V, Perrotta G, Pot C, Théaudin M, Martinelli V, Scotti R, Wu T, Du Pasquier R, Calabresi P, Filippi M, Reich DS, Absinta M. Paramagnetic rim lesions are specific to multiple sclerosis: an international multicenter 3-Tesla MRI study. Annals of neurology. 2020; 88(5):1034-1042. doi:10.1002/ana.25877. (I.F. 9,04)

Maggi P, Absinta M, Sati P, Perrotta G., Massacesi L., Dachy B. Pot C, Meuli R, Reich DS, Filippi M, Du Pasquier R, Theaudin M. The “central vein sign” in patients with diagnostic “red flags” for multiple sclerosis: a prospective multicenter 3T study. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2020; 26: 421–432. (I.F. 5,41)

Maggi P, Fartaria MJ, Jorge J, La Rosa F, Absinta M, Sati P, Meuli R, Du Pasquier R, Reich DS, Bach Cuadra M, Granziera C, Richiardi J, Kober T. CVSnet: a machine learning approach for automated central vein sign assessment in multiple sclerosis. NMR in Biomedicine. 2020; 33:e4283. (I.F. 3,22)

Guisset F, Lolli V, Bugli C, Perrotta G, Absil J, Dachy B, Pot C, Theaudin M, Pasi M, van Pesch V, Maggi P. The central vein sign in MS patients with vascular comorbidities. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. August 2020. doi:10.1177/1352458520943785. (I.F. 5,41)

Barquero García G, La Rosa F, Kebiri H, Rahmanzadeh R, João Fartaria M, Kober T, Theaudin M, Du Pasquier R, Sati P, Reich D.S, Absinta M, Granziera C, Maggi P,* Bach Cuadra M,* (* equal contribution). RimNet: A deep 3D multimodal MRI architecture for paramagnetic rim lesions detection in multiple sclerosis. Neuroimage: Clinical. 2020;28:102412. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102412. (I.F. 4,35)

Absinta, M, Sati, P, Gaitan MI, Maggi P, Cortese IC, Filippi M, Reich DS. Seven-tesla phase imaging of acute multiple sclerosis lesions: a new window into the inflammatory process. Annals of neurology. 2013;74(5):669-78. (I.F. 12,44)

Guilmot A, Maldonado Slootjes S, Sellimi A, Bronchain M, Hanseeuw B, Belkhir L, Yombi JC, De Greef J, Pothen L, Duprez T, Fillée C, Anantharajah A, Capes A, Hantson P, Jacquerye P, Raymackers JM, London F, El Sankari S, Ivanoiu A, Maggi P,* van Pesch V,* (*equal contribution). Immune-mediated neurological syndromes in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. Journal of Neurology 2020;1-7. doi:10.1007/s00415-020-10108-x. (I.F. 3,95)