Functional response to active and passive ankle movements with clinical correlations in patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis

J Neurol. 2006 Jul;253(7):882-91. doi: 10.1007/s00415-006-0125-z. Epub 2006 Apr 20.


Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) activate a more diffuse cortical network than do healthy subjects when they perform motor tasks. This brain functional reorganisation might contribute to the limiting of disability, but it is unclear whether there is a loss of regional activation in more advanced disease. The aim of this study was to assess whether functional reorganisation diminishes in more disabled patients with primary progressive (PP) MS. The differences in the fMRI response to active and passive movements of the dominant ankle of 13 patients and 16 controls were assessed. The relationships between functional activation and disability and brain lesion load and atrophy were investigated.Patients showed greater fMRI activation than controls with passive movements in the superior temporal gyrus, rolandic operculum, and putamen. The fMRI response to active and passive movements in the ipsilateral inferior frontal gyrus was lower in patients with greater disability and greater brain T2 lesion load, respectively. Furthermore, the fMRI activation with active movements in the contralateral cerebellum was lower in patients with worse mobility. The increased activity with passive movements in regions that participate in sensori-motor integration, such as the putamen, reflects true functional reorganisation, since passive movements induce brain activation through sensory afferents only. The inverse correlation between the fMRI response in regions that are associated with motor control, and clinical or MRI measures of disease progression, suggests that there is a loss of distributed activation in more disabled patients. This may inform future treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Ankle / innervation
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Movement Disorders / diagnosis
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology