Context: Hypointense lesions on T1-weighted spin-echo magnetic resonance images (T1 lesions) represent destructive multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions, consisting of axonal loss and matrix destruction. These lesions are being used as a secondary outcome measure in phase III clinical trials. Clinical determinants of T1 lesions may differ between subgroups of patients with MS and subsequently may have implications for the selection of patients for clinical trials.
Objective: To determine if clinical characteristics of patients with MS are related to T1 lesion volume.
Design: A survey of 138 patients with MS (52 with relapsing-remitting MS, 44 with secondary progressive MS, and 42 with primary progressive MS).
Setting: The Magnetic Resonance Center for Multiple Sclerosis Research, University Hospital "Vrije Universiteit," Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Main outcome measures: Type of MS, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, sex, age at first symptoms, and T1 lesion volume.
Results: Patients with secondary progressive MS have the highest T1 lesion volume. Patients with relapsing-remitting MS have a lower T1/T2 ratio than patients with secondary progressive MS and patients with primary progressive MS. In patients with relapsing-remitting MS and secondary progressive MS, T1 lesion volume relates to disease duration and EDSS score, while in patients with primary progressive MS sex is important. A trend toward higher T1 lesion volume was shown for male patients with primary progressive MS when compared with female patients with primary progressive MS (1.0 cm(3) vs 0.3 cm(3), P=.03); a trend toward higher T1 lesion volume was found with age at onset in patients with relapsing-remitting MS and in patients with primary progressive MS.
Conclusions: In patients with MS different clinical characteristics associate with T1 lesion volume, suggesting a more destructive type of lesions in certain subgroups. A possible sex difference in (destructive) lesion development on magnetic resonance imaging should be evaluated in more detail, preferably in a cohort.