Seasonal variation of multiple sclerosis exacerbations in Japan

Neurol Sci. 2004 Feb;24(6):417-9. doi: 10.1007/s10072-003-0200-5.


Several reports have described the seasonal variation of multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks in the European countries and in the US. Some have insisted that attacks occurred more frequently in winter or spring. We investigated the possibility of a seasonal variation in the frequency of MS attacks among patients in Japan. A total of 172 MS exacerbations in 34 MS patients were analyzed retrospectively. Attacks were divided into two groups: opticospinal type and brain type. The 12 months of the year were assigned to 6 groups based on average monthly temperature. Of the 172 MS exacerbations, 123 were opticospinal type and 49 were brain type of attacks. The total number of attacks was significantly more frequent in the warmest (July and August) and coldest (January and February) months. The heat of summer in warmer, low latitude areas may be a risk factor for MS attacks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / classification
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors