European Radiology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 96–103 | Cite as

Different patterns of longitudinal brain and spinal cord changes and their associations with disability progression in NMO and MS

  • Yaou Liu
  • Yunyun Duan
  • Jing Huang
  • Zhuoqiong Ren
  • Zheng Liu
  • Huiqing Dong
  • Florian Weiler
  • Horst K. Hahn
  • Fu-Dong Shi
  • Helmut Butzkueven
  • Frederik Barkhof
  • Kuncheng Li
Magnetic Resonance



To investigate the longitudinal spinal cord and brain changes in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS) and their associations with disability progression.

Patients and methods

We recruited 28 NMO, 22 MS, and 20 healthy controls (HC), who underwent both spinal cord and brain MRI at baseline. Twenty-five NMO and 20 MS completed 1-year follow-up. Baseline spinal cord and brain lesion loads, mean upper cervical cord area (MUCCA), brain, and thalamus volume and their changes during a 1-year follow-up were measured and compared between groups. All the measurements were also compared between progressive and non-progressive groups in NMO and MS.


MUCCA decreased significantly during the 1-year follow-up in NMO not in MS. Percentage brain volume changes (PBVC) and thalamus volume changes in MS were significantly higher than NMO. MUCCA changes were significantly different between progressive and non-progressive groups in NMO, while baseline brain lesion volume and PBVC were associated with disability progression in MS. MUCCA changes during 1-year follow-up showed association with clinical disability in NMO.


Spinal cord atrophy changes were associated with disability progression in NMO, while baseline brain lesion load and whole brain atrophy changes were related to disability progression in MS.

Key Points

• Spinal cord atrophy progression was observed in NMO.

• Spinal cord atrophy changes were associated with disability progression in NMO.

• Brain lesion and atrophy were related to disability progression in MS.


Multiple sclerosis Neuromyelitis optica Mean upper cervical cord area Brain MRI 



Healthy control


Mean upper cervical cord area


Normalised brain volume


Neuromyelitis optica


Normalised thalamic volume


Percentage brain volume changes


Percentage ventricular volume change


Relapsing remitting MS


Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Yaou Liu.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.


This work was supported by the ECTRIMS-MAGNMIS Fellowship from ECTRIMS (YL), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 81571631 and 81401377), the Beijing Natural Science fund (Grant No. 7162077 YL), and the Beijing Nova Program (Grant No. xx2013045, YL), and the Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals Clinical Medicine Development of Special Funding Support (Grant No. ZYLX201609).

Statistics and biometry

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (patients) in this study.


• Prospective

• diagnostic or prognostic study

• performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaou Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yunyun Duan
    • 1
  • Jing Huang
    • 1
  • Zhuoqiong Ren
    • 1
  • Zheng Liu
    • 5
  • Huiqing Dong
    • 5
  • Florian Weiler
    • 6
  • Horst K. Hahn
    • 6
  • Fu-Dong Shi
    • 4
  • Helmut Butzkueven
    • 7
  • Frederik Barkhof
    • 3
    • 8
  • Kuncheng Li
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyXuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Key Lab of MRI and Brain InformaticsBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Neuroscience Campus AmsterdamVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Neurology and Tianjin Neurological InstituteTianjin Medical University General HospitalTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of Neurology, Xuanwu HospitalCapital Medical UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.Fraunhofer MEVIS, Institute for Medical Image ComputingBremenGermany
  7. 7.Department of MedicineUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  8. 8.Institutes of Neurology and Healthcare EngineeringUCLLondonUK

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