The Relationships among MRI-Defined Spinal Cord Involvement, Brain Involvement, and Disability in Multiple Sclerosis

Departments of Neurology and Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Laboratory for Neuroimaging Research, Partners MS Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Journal of neuroimaging: official journal of the American Society of Neuroimaging (Impact Factor: 1.82). 03/2011; 22(2):122-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1552-6569.2011.00589.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To determine the interrelationships between MRI-defined lesion and atrophy measures of spinal cord involvement and brain involvement and their relationships to disability in a small cohort of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Although it is known that cervical spinal cord atrophy correlates with disability in MS, it is unknown whether it is the most important determinant when compared to other regions of the central nervous system (CNS). Furthermore, it is not clear to what extent brain and cord lesions and atrophy are related.
3T MRI of the whole brain and whole spinal cord was obtained in 21 patients with MS, including 18 with relapsing-remitting, one with secondary progressive, one with primary progressive, and one with a clinically isolated syndrome. Brain global gray and white matter volumes were segmented with Statistical Parametric Mapping 8. Spinal cord contour volume was segmented in whole by a semi-automated method with bins assigned to either the cervical or thoracic regions. All CNS volumes were normalized by the intracranial volume. Brain and cord T2 hyperintense lesions were segmented using a semi-automated edge finding tool.
Among all MRI measures, only upper cervical spinal cord volume significantly correlated with Expanded Disability Status Scale score (r =-.515, P = .020). The brain cord relationships between whole or regional spinal cord volume or lesions and gray matter, white matter, or whole brain volume or whole brain lesions were generally weak and all nonsignificant.
In this preliminary study of mildly disabled, treated MS patients, cervical spinal cord atrophy most strongly correlates with physical disability in MS when accounting for a wide range of other CNS measures of lesions and atrophy, including thoracic or whole spinal cord volume, and cerebral gray, white or whole brain volume. The weak relationship between spinal cord and brain lesions and atrophy may suggest that they progress rather independently in patients with MS.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Spinal cord lesions is one of the predominant characteristics in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD). Interestingly, mounting evidence indicates that spinal cord atrophy (SCA) is one of common clinical features in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and correlates closely with the neurological disability. However, Clinical studies related to the SCA aspects of NMOSD are still scarce.Methods We retrospectively analyzed 185 patients with NMOSD, including 23 patients with SCA and 162 patients without SCA. Data were collected regarding clinical characteristics, laboratory tests, and magnetic resonance imaging findings.Results12.4% of patients had SCA in NMOSD. Patients with SCA had a longer disease duration and higher EDSS at clinical onset and last visit. More importantly, SCA patients were more prone to reach disability milestones (EDSS¿¿¿6.0). Bowel or bladder dysfunction, movement disorders, and sensory disturbances symptoms were more common in patients with SCA. ESR and CRP were significantly higher in patients with SCA than those without SCA. Patients with SCA were more frequently complicated with cervical cord lesions. However, the ARR, progression index, seropositive rate of NMO-IgG and OCB positive were similar in the two groups. Futhermore, LETM did not differ significantly between patients with SCA and without SCA in NMOSD patients.Conclusions Patients with SCA might have longer disease duration, more severe clinical disability, and more frequently complicated with cervical spinal cord lesions. SCA might be predictive of the more severe neurologic dysfunction and worse prognosis in NMOSD. Inflammation contributes to the development of SCA in NMOSD.
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