Volumes of brain atrophy and plaques correlated with neurological disability in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

J Neurol Sci. 1999 May 1;165(1):36-42. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(99)00071-4.


The objectives of the present study was to correlate the segmented magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumes of intracranial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces (expressing the extent of brain atrophy) and cerebral plaques with the neurological disability in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). Earlier studies have mainly correlated MS plaques and neurological disability measured by expanded disability status scale (EDSS). The data on the association between brain atrophy and EDSS or regional functional scoring scale (RFSS) are very limited. We measured the volumes of intracranial CSF spaces in 28 patients with secondary progressive MS using MRI, and semiautomatic segmentation software. The volumes of T1-weighted hypointense and T2-weighted hyperintense MS plaques were also measured. In multiple regression analysis, increasing volumes of total (P=0.006) and relative (P=0.005) intracranial CSF spaces were significantly associated with worsening neurological disability as expressed by EDSS. No associations were found between these intracranial CSF space volumes and total RFSS scores. The mean volume of T2-weighted plaques showed a tendency to associate with total RFSS score (r=0.40, P=0.03), but no correlations were detected between T1- or T2-weighted plaque volumes and EDSS. The application of a new segmentation technique in quantifying intracranial cerebrospinal fluid spaces allowed an exact and sensitive way of assessing brain atrophy. The associations between brain atrophy and neurological disability expressed by EDSS suggests that the effect of MS therapies should be evaluated by measurement of brain atrophy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology*


  • Amyloid