, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 54-62
Date: 06 Jan 2011

Neuroimaging in Multiple Sclerosis: Neurotherapeutic Implications

Summary

Imaging techniques, in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), play an important role in the diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis (MS) and related demyelinating diseases. Findings on MRI studies of the brain and spinal cord are critical for MS diagnosis, are used to monitor treatment response and may aid in predicting disease progression in individual patients. In addition, results of imaging studies serve as essential biomarkers in clinical trials of putative MS therapies and have led to important insights into disease pathophysiology. Although they are useful tools and provide in vivo measures of disease-related activity, there are some important limitations of MRI findings in MS, including the non-specific nature of detectable white matter changes, the poor correlation with clinical disability, the limited sensitivity and ability of standard measures of gadolinium enhancing lesions and T2 lesions to predict future clinical course, and the lack of validated biomarkers of long term outcomes. Advancements that hold promise for the future include new techniques that are sensitive to diffuse changes, the increased use of higher field scanners, measures that capture disease related changes in gray matter, and the use of combined structural and functional imaging approaches to assess the complex and evolving disease process that occurs during the course of MS.