More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Cognitive dysfunction in early-onset multiple sclerosis: a reappraisal after 10 years

Arch Neurol 2001 Oct;58(10):1602-6
Amato MP, Ponziani G, Siracusa G, Sorbi S.
Department of Neurology, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni, 85, Florence, Italy 50134.


To reassess, in a cohort of patients with early-onset multiple sclerosis, the long-term evolution of cognitive deficits, their relationship to the disease's clinical progression, and their effects on daily life.


Ten years after our baseline assessment, we again compared the cognitive performance of patients and control subjects on a neuropsychological test battery. Clinical and demographic correlates of cognitive impairment and their effects on everyday functioning were determined by multiple linear regression analysis.


The research clinic of a university department of neurology.


Forty-five inpatients and outpatients with multiple sclerosis and 65 demographically matched healthy controls from the original sample.


Mean scores of both groups on the neuropsychological test battery in initial and 2 follow-up evaluations (about 4 and 10 years, respectively); number of cognitively impaired subjects, defined by the number of subtests failed; regression coefficients measuring the relationship between clinical variables and cognitive outcome and between mental decline and everyday functioning assessed by the Environmental and the Incapacity Status Scales.


Previously detected cognitive defects in verbal memory, abstract reasoning, and linguistic processes were confirmed on the third testing, at which time deficits in attention/short-term spatial memory also emerged. Only 20 of 37 patients who were cognitively unimpaired on initial testing remained so by the end of the follow-up, when the proportion of subjects who were cognitively impaired reached 56%. Degree of physical disability, progressive disease course, and increasing age predicted the extent of cognitive decline. Disability level and degree of cognitive impairment were independent predictors of a patient's handicap in the workplace and in social settings.


In the course of a sufficiently long follow-up, cognitive dysfunction is likely to emerge and progress in a sizable proportion of patients. As multiple sclerosis advances, neurological and cognitive involvement tend to converge. Limitations in a patient's work and social activities are correlated with the extent of cognitive decline, independent of degree of physical disability.

PMID: 11594918 [PubMed - in process]