Contribution of corticospinal tract damage to cortical motor reorganization after a single clinical attack of multiple sclerosis

Neuroimage. 2002 Dec;17(4):1837-43. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2002.1313.


The objectives of this study were to assess whether cortical motor reorganization in the early phase of multiple sclerosis (MS) is correlated with the clinical presentation and with specific damage to the corticospinal tract. Twenty patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and serial MR findings indicative of MS were selected. In 10 patients the CIS was hemiparesis (group H), and in 10 patients the CIS was optic neuritis (group ON). There were no significant differences in age, disease duration, total T2 lesion load (LL), and total T1 LL between group H and group ON. Ten age-matched healthy subjects served as controls (group C). All subjects were submitted to fMRI during a sequential finger-to-thumb opposition task of the right hand. Group H showed a significantly higher EDSS score and T1 LL calculated along the corticospinal tract than group ON. Three-group comparison by ANOVA showed significantly higher activation in group H than in the other two groups (P < 0.001). Significant foci were located in the sensory-motor cortex (BA 1-4), the parietal cortex (BA 40), the insula of the ipsilateral hemisphere, and the contralateral motor cortex (BA 4/6). Group ON showed, although at a lower level of significance (P < 0.01), higher activation of the contralateral motor-related areas than group C. Multiple regression analysis showed that T2 and T1 LL along the corticospinal tract and time since clinical onset positively correlated with activation in motor areas in both cerebral hemispheres (P < 0.005). Total T2 LL positively correlated with activation in motor areas in the contralateral hemisphere (P < 0.005). Total T1 LL and EDSS did not show any significant correlation. More severe specific damage to the motor pathway in patients with previous hemiparesis may explain the significantly higher involvement of ipsilateral motor areas observed in group H than in group ON. Furthermore, the significant correlation between the time since clinical onset and activation in motor areas suggests that cortical reorganization develops gradually in concomitance with the subclinical accumulation of tissue damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / pathology
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnosis
  • Optic Neuritis / pathology
  • Optic Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Paresis / diagnosis
  • Paresis / pathology
  • Paresis / physiopathology
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiopathology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / pathology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology*