All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for April 2004

Inflammatory lesions predict brain atrophy in early MS

April 16th, 2004
Boston Cure Project

To better understand the sequence of events that take place in the MS disease process, scientists are designing studies that make use of serial MRI -- MRIs of a subject taken on a periodic basis that can be compared over time. In this recent study, scientists used serial MRI to understand the connection between inflammation and atrophy in early MS. The team enrolled 62 people with a single episode suggestive of MS and an abnormal MRI, and tracked them for 18 months or until they developed clinically definite MS. Subjects were given monthly MRIs for the first six months as well as follow-up scans at months 12 and 18. The images were analyzed for lesion numbers and volume as well as changes in brain volume.

The results confirmed previous findings that clinically definite MS was more likely to develop in those subjects whose initial MRI showed enhancing (inflammatory) lesion activity. Furthermore, among those subjects who did not develop a second MS symptom, and who were therefore tracked over the full 18 months, the presence of enhancing lesions during the 6-month monthly scanning period was correlated with subsequent loss of brain volume. The 25 subjects with enhancing lesions showed greater decreases in brain volume than the 13 with no enhancing activity -- however, this difference was not found during the initial 6-month period but during the follow-up scans at 12 and 18 months. This suggests that inflammation plays a role in brain atrophy, but that a time lag is involved. Finally, the study supports the use of anti-inflammatory therapies at the initial onset of MS, by demonstrating that inflammation and atrophy can occur even in the absence of clinically evident symptoms.

Copyright © 2004, Boston Cure Project