J Neurol Sci 2003 Feb 15;206(2):157-64
Neuroimaging Research Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 60, 20132, Milan, Italy
Despite patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) experience a progressive disease course from onset, the burden and activity of lesions on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain are lower than in all other main clinical phenotypes of MS.
This review outlines the major contributions given by magnetization transfer MRI, diffusion tensor MRI and functional MRI to the understanding of the pathophysiology of PPMS and provides evidence that, at least, three factors might explain this clinical/MRI discrepancy:
(a) the presence of a diffuse tissue damage at a microscopic level;
(b) a prevalent involvement of the cervical cord, and
(c) an impairment of the adaptive capacity of the cortex to limit the functional consequences of subcortical structural damage.