Objective: To document clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics of a large cohort of primary and transitional progressive multiple sclerosis (PP and TP MS) patients over one year.
Introduction: Patients with PP or TP MS have been shown to have low brain T2 and T1 lesion loads and slow rates of new lesion formation with minimal gadolinium enhancement, despite their accumulating disability. Serial evaluation of these patients is needed to elucidate the pathological processes responsible for disease progression and to identify clinical and MRI measures which can monitor these processes in treatment trials.
Method: Patients, recruited from six European centres, underwent two assessments on the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and MRI of the brain and spinal cord, 1 year apart.
Results: Of the 167 patients studied (137 with PP MS and 30 with TP MS), 41 (25%; 35 PP and six TP) showed a one step increase in the EDSS. The mean number of new brain lesions seen was 0.88 in the PP group and 0.47 in the TP MS group. Both groups demonstrated change in T2 lesion load over the year (p< or =0.002), with median percentage changes of 7.3% in the PP group and 10. 8% in the TP MS group. The PP group also showed a significant change in T1 load (p< 0.001, median change 12.6%). The number of new cord lesions seen was small (mean of 0.14 in the PP group and no new cord lesions in the TP group). Both groups demonstrated a decrease in cord cross sectional area (p< 0.001, median changes; PP 3.8%, TP 4. 9%), but only the PP group showed evidence of significant brain atrophy (p<0.001, 0.95%).
Conclusion: Although the monitoring of disease progression in this patient group is difficult, this study demonstrates changes in both lesion load and atrophy, which, if shown to correlate with clinical change over a longer time will facilitate therapeutic trial design.