Subcortical atrophy and cognition: Sex effects in MS

This Swedish study looked at the correlation between subcortical gray matter atrophy and cognition in the early stages (6 years post diagnosis) of relapsing-remitting MS. The patient cohort had relatively mild disability and low lesion load. 170 subjects were included in this study, of which there were 50 healthy controls and 120 who had relapsing-remitting MS.

Structural MRI and neuropsychological tests were performed. Cognition was evaluated in 7 domains including: executive function, verbal memory, information processing speed, visuospatial memory, working memory, attention and psychomotor speed. Deep gray matter volumes were segmented automatically.

Results from this study showed that most deep gray matter volumes were reduced and it was most pronounced in the thalamus, caudate and pallidum, with larger effects on average in males than in females. All cognitive domains apart from visuospatial memory were affected in men. None were significantly affected in women. Overall, it was found that thalamic volume, sex and education best predicted average cognition. This shows the association between certain subcortical structures and cognition.

Authors:
Schoonheim MM, Popescu V, Rueda Lopes FC, Wiebenga OT

Source: Neurology. 2012 Sep 26. [Epub ahead of print]

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