Eur J Neurol. 2003 Nov;10(6):663-9
Ukkonen M, Dastidar P, Heinonen T, Laasonen E, Elovaara I.
Neuroimmunology Unit, Department of Neurology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.
In primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) abnormalities in brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) differ from abnormalities in other subtypes of multiple sclerosis (MS).
It was investigated whether the extent of brain and spinal cord MRI abnormalities is reflected in the neurological disability in PPMS.
Focal and diffuse changes and atrophy in central nervous system (CNS) in patients with PPMS (n = 28) and healthy controls (n = 20) were assessed by semi-automatic MRI segmentation and volumetric analysis.
The measurements were related to neurological disability as expressed by the expanded disability status scale (EDSS), the regional functional scoring system (RFSS), the arm index and the ambulation index.
Plaques in T1- and/or T2-weighted images were seen in all brains, while spinal plaques were detected in 23 of 28 patients (82%).
The total volumes of brain and spinal cord were significantly smaller in patients than in controls (P = 0.001 and 0.000, respectively).
The volumes of T1 or T2 lesions in the brain correlated to the ambulation index (r = 0.51, P = 0.005 and r = 0.53, P = 0.004, respectively).
No correlations were detected between MRI measurements and total EDSS score, but relative brain atrophy correlated inversely with the total RFSS scores, poor arm index and higher cerebral disturbances (r = -0.53, P = 0.004; r = -0.53, P = 0.004; and r = -0.52, P = 0.005, respectively).
Although the number of spinal T2 lesions correlated with sensory disturbances (r = 0.60, P = 0.001), no correlations were found between EDSS subscores and spinal cord atrophy.
These findings show that marked atrophy of brain and spinal cord detected by volumetric quantitation correlates with neurological disability.
This observation indicates the importance of neurodegenerative events in PPMS.