Several studies indicated that multiple sclerosis (MS) is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases. However, it is little known if the coexistence of these conditions may influence the radiologic features of MS, and in particular the brain volumes.
To evaluate the effect of autoimmune comorbidities on brain atrophy in a large case–control MS population.
A group of MS patients affected by a second autoimmune disorder, and a control MS group without any comorbidity, were recruited. Patients underwent a brain MRI and volumes of whole brain (WB), white matter (WM), and gray matter (GM) with cortical GM were estimated by SIENAX.
The sample included 286 MS patients, of which 30 (10.5%) subjects with type 1 diabetes (T1D), 53 (18.5%) with autoimmune thyroiditis (AT) and 4 (0.1%) with celiac disease. Multiple regression analysis found an association between T1D and lower GM (p = 0.038) and cortical GM (p = 0.036) volumes, independent from MS clinical features and related to T1D duration (p < 0.01), while no association was observed with AT and celiac disease.
Our data support the importance of considering T1D as possible factors influencing the brain atrophy in MS. Further studies are needed to confirm our data and to clarify the underlying mechanisms.
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Conflicts of interest
Dr. Lorefice has received speaker fees from Teva and serves on scientific advisory boards for Biogen. Dr. Fenu has received honoraria for consultancy from Novartis and for speaking from Merck Serono and Teva. Dr. Frau serves on scientific advisory boards for Biogen, and has received honoraria for speaking from Merck Serono and Teva. Dr. Coghe has received speaker fees from Teva and Almirall. Professors Cocco and Marrosu have received honoraria for consultancy or speaking from Bayer, Biogen, Novartis, Sanofi, Genzyme, Serono, and Teva. Dr. Barracciu, Dr. Musu, Dr. Pitzalis, Dr. Sechi, and Dr. Scalas have nothing to disclose.
The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards statement.
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Lorefice, L., Fenu, G., Pitzalis, R. et al. Autoimmune comorbidities in multiple sclerosis: what is the influence on brain volumes? A case–control MRI study. J Neurol 265, 1096–1101 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-018-8811-1