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MRI correlates of disease course and activity in multiple sclerosis

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We have carried out a comparative cross-sectional study of patients with relapsing and remitting MS (multiple sclerosis) (RRMS) (n=9), primary progressive MS (PPMS) (n=7), and secondary progressive MS (SPMS) (n=10) using image analysis techniques to determine the number and volume of Gd-DTPA-enhancing lesions. RRMS patients had more lesions than either PPMS or SPMS (ns), and the mean volume of the lesions (p=0.006) and the total volume of enhancing lesions (p<0.03) were significantly larger in patients with RRMS compared with PPMS. The prevalence of blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown appears to be similar in PPMS and SPMS, with the higher rate in RRMS suggesting a suppressive effect of disease duration (and/or age). Similarly, the volume of the lesion load overall was negatively correlated with disease duration (p −0.56,p<0.003). Differences between PPMS and RRMS/SPMS patients in the volume of the enhancing lesions may reflect differences in the ability of these patients to suppress the immune-mediated damage to axons which may follow episodic BBB breakdown and which is not visualized on conventional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Correspondence to Lance D. Blumhardt.

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Blumhardt, L.D., Barbosa, S., Roberts, N. et al. MRI correlates of disease course and activity in multiple sclerosis. MAGMA 2, 319–322 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01705262

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  • multiple sclerosis
  • MRI
  • image analysis
  • lesion volume