Journal of Neurology

, Volume 243, Issue 7, pp 536–542 | Cite as

Patterns of disease activity in multiple sclerosis patients: A study with quantitative gadolinium-enhanced brain MRI and cytokine measurement in different clinical subgroups

  • Marco Rovaris
  • David Barnes
  • Nicola Woodrofe
  • George H. du Boulay
  • John W. Thorpe
  • Alan J. Thompson
  • W. Ian McDonald
  • David H. Miller
Original Communication


In this study we assessed the subclinical disease activity in 45 patients with primary progressive, secondary progressive or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The patients had gadolinium-enhanced brain MRI scans, which were analysed using a semiquantitative method both for lesion load and for degree of enhancement. At the same time cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum samples were collected and, from these, cytokine levels were measured in most cases by enzyme-linked immunoassay using commercially available kits. Enhancing lesions on MRI were found in 73% of the patients. The sensitivity of this test was greatly increased by our method of analysis as far as the primary progressive patients are concerned (70% vs 40% for conventional evaluation). CSF interleukin-1 β (IL-1 β) levels were above the normal range in 22% and IL-6 levels in 13% of patients, while tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) was undetectable or below the upper normal limits in all the samples tested. Serum IL-1 β was above the normal limits in 40%, IL-6 in 42% and TNF-α in 7% of patients. No significant differences in cytokine profiles were found between the clinical subgroups. This study confirms the high sensitivity of gadolinium-enhanced MRI in detecting MS activity, which was further increased by our method of analysis. Longitudinal studies performed with more sensitive immunological techniques are needed to define better the relationship between cytokine, clinical and MRI data in MS patients.

Key words

Multiple sclerosis Magnetic resonance imaging Gadolinium Cytokines 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Rovaris
    • 1
  • David Barnes
    • 1
  • Nicola Woodrofe
    • 1
  • George H. du Boulay
    • 1
  • John W. Thorpe
    • 1
  • Alan J. Thompson
    • 1
  • W. Ian McDonald
    • 1
  • David H. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Neurology, Institute of NeurologyThe National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryLondonUK

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