This collaborative study looked at determining the relationship of brain lesion load and brain and spinal cord atrophy, with physical disability in patients with a long duration of MS. Parameters that the researchers looked at on MRI included brain grey matter fraction (GMF), white matter fractional (WMF) volumes, upper cervical spinal cord cross-sectional area (UCCA) and brain T2-lesion volume (T2LV).
The researchers used two regression models (dividing cohort by EDSS into two and four sub-groups) to analyse the association between EDSS and MRI measures. In the binary model they found that UCCA and T2LV were independently associated with the requirement of a walking aid, while in the four category model UCCA, T2LV and GMF were independently associated with disability.
This study demonstrated that long-term physical disability was independently linked with atrophy of the spinal cord and brain T2 lesion load, and less with grey matter atrophy. In order to capture clinically-relevant information in people with MS with long disease duration, both spinal cord and brain MRI measure may be required.
Authors: Kearney H, Rocca M
Source: Mult Scler. 2013 Jun 27. [Epub ahead of print]
Read the abstract