Behav Neurol 2003;14(1,2):39-45
Haase CG, Tinnefeld M, Lienemann M, Ganz RE, Faustmann PM.
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Essen, Germany.
Cognitive and emotional capabilities were evaluated in 73 female patients with stable relapsing-remitting definite, and/or laboratory-supported multiple sclerosis (MS) and were compared with 32 matched healthy controls.
Patients were categorized according to their score in the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) to either no (EDSS 0, n = 33) or few clinical signs (EDSS 1-2, n = 40) of MS without physical disability.
Patients with EDSS > 0 were characterized by significantly (p < 0.001) higher scores on "von Zerssen's" depression scale, compared to controls.
Patients with higher EDSS scores (1-2) showed significantly decreased performance with respect to the total score of Kimura's Recurring-Figures-Test (p < 0.001), in addition.
Regarding visuo-constructive functioning, patients with EDSS=0 performed to a significantly lower level (p < 0.001), compared to controls.
These results indicate that depression may present as an early sign in MS followed by cognitive impairment, in particular visuo-spatial short-term memory, before physical disability appears.
Neuropsychological tests as mentioned here could serve as early diagnostic tools to detect subtle disease progression and to initiate and monitor disease modifying therapies.