Grey matter magnetization transfer ratio independently correlates with neurological deficit in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis
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- Hayton, T., Furby, J., Smith, K.J. et al. J Neurol (2009) 256: 427. doi:10.1007/s00415-009-0110-4
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Although there is substantial brain grey matter pathology in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), there has been limited investigation of its contribution to disability.
This study investigated the correlation of magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) measures taken from brain grey matter, normal appearing white matter (NAWM) and lesions with neurological deficit and disability in 113 people with secondary progressive MS. In order to adjust for the potential effects of focal white matter lesions and global brain atrophy, T2 lesion volume and normalized brain volume (NBV) were also calculated for each subject. Clinical measures included the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and the multiple sclerosis functional composite (MSFC) scores. Linear regression analysis was used to assess the age- and gender-adjusted correlation of MTR histogram mean, peak height and peak location with the MSFC and individual component measures. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine whether imaging measures could be used to predict if subjects were in the higher disability group (EDSS ≥ 6.5).
Significant correlations were detected between MSFC composite and mean MTR in (i) normal appearing white matter (NAWM; r = 0.327, p < 0.0001), (ii) grey matter (r = 0.460, p < 0.0001) and (iii) lesions (r = 0.394, p < 0.0001). Although NBV and T2 lesion volume correlated significantly with MSFC, grey matter histogram mean emerged as the best predictor of MSFC score. None of the MRI measures significantly predicted higher EDSS.
These results suggest that brain grey matter pathology plays an important role in determining neurological impairment. The apparent paucity of correlation between MRI measures and EDSS is likely to represent the relative insensitivity of the latter measure in this study group.