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More MS news articles for January 2003

Short-Term Correlations between Clinical and MR Imaging Findings in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2003 Jan;24(1):75-81
Rovaris M, Comi G, Ladkani D, Wolinsky JS, Filippi M.
Neuroimaging Research Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy. Clinical Trials Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy. TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries, Petah Tiqva, Israel. University of Texas-Houston, Health Science Center.


Despite extensive use of MR imaging to provide markers of multiple sclerosis (MS) activity and accumulated disease burden, the magnitude of the relationship between clinical and MR findings is still debated. Using data from the European/Canadian glatiramer acetate (GA) trial, we investigated short-term correlations between clinical and MR measures of disease activity in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).


In a 9-month, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, 239 patients with RRMS were randomly assigned to receive 20 mg GA (n = 119) or placebo (n = 120). Clinical assessment included monthly neurologic examinations with Expanded Disability Status Scale scoring and visits for symptoms suggestive of relapse. Dual-echo T2-weighted and pre- and postcontrast T1-weighted brain MR images were obtained at baseline and monthly during follow-up. Contrast-enhancing and new T2-hyperintense lesions were counted, and total T2-hyperintense and T1-hypointense lesion volumes were measured.


Significant univariate correlations were found between the number of relapses during the study period and the number of enhancing lesions at baseline (r = 0.25) and during follow-up (r = 0.30) in the study population as a whole. Multivariable analysis showed that two independent factors were more strongly correlated with relapse frequency: the number of relapses during the 2 years before entry and the number of on-trial enhancing lesions, in the whole study population and in the placebo group.


In RRMS, MR imaging measures of inflammatory activity are modestly but significantly correlated with the occurrence of clinical attacks over the short term. Clinical and MR imaging assessment can provide complementary outcome measures for RRMS trials.