Neurological Sciences

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 371–377 | Cite as

Grey matter damage in progressive multiple sclerosis versus amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a voxel-based morphometry MRI study

  • Eleonora Tavazzi
  • Maria Marcella Laganà
  • Niels Bergsland
  • Paola Tortorella
  • Giovanna Pinardi
  • Christian Lunetta
  • Massimo Corbo
  • Marco Rovaris
Original Article


Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) seem to share some clinical and pathological features. MRI studies revealed the presence of grey matter (GM) atrophy in both diseases, but no comparative data are available. The objective was to compare the regional patterns of GM tissue loss in PPMS and ALS with voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Eighteen PPMS patients, 20 ALS patients, and 31 healthy controls (HC) were studied with a 1.5 Tesla scanner. VBM was performed to assess volumetric GM differences with age and sex as covariates. Threshold-free cluster enhancement analysis was used to obtain significant clusters. Group comparisons were tested with family-wise error correction for multiple comparisons (p < 0.05) except for HC versus MND which was tested at a level of p < 0.001 uncorrected and a cluster threshold of 20 contiguous voxels. Compared to HC, ALS patients showed GM tissue reduction in selected frontal and temporal areas, while PPMS patients showed a widespread bilateral GM volume decrease, involving both deep and cortical regions. Compared to ALS, PPMS patients showed tissue volume reductions in both deep and cortical GM areas. This preliminary study confirms that PPMS is characterized by a more diffuse cortical and subcortical GM atrophy than ALS and that, in the latter condition, brain damage is present outside the motor system. These results suggest that PPMS and ALS may share pathological features leading to GM tissue loss.


Multiple sclerosis Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Grey matter MRI Voxel-based morphometry 



This study was supported by a research grant from FISM—Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla (Grant # 2009/R/24).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleonora Tavazzi
    • 1
  • Maria Marcella Laganà
    • 2
  • Niels Bergsland
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Paola Tortorella
    • 1
  • Giovanna Pinardi
    • 1
  • Christian Lunetta
    • 5
  • Massimo Corbo
    • 5
  • Marco Rovaris
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Motor Neurorehabilitation, Multiple Sclerosis CenterScientific Institute Santa Maria Nascente, Fondazione Don GnocchiMilanItaly
  2. 2.MR Research LaboratoryIRCCS Santa Maria Nascente, Fondazione Don GnocchiMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of Electronics, Information and BioengineeringPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  4. 4.Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine and Biomedical SciencesUniversity at Buffalo, State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  5. 5.NEuroMuscular Omnicentre (NEMO)Niguarda HospitalMilanItaly

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