Major differences in the dynamics of primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Ann Neurol. 1991 Jan;29(1):53-62. doi: 10.1002/ana.410290111.


In patients with primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), major differences in the pattern and extent of abnormality on cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) between the two groups have recently been demonstrated. In the present study, 24 patients, matched for age, sex, duration of disease, and disability, had serial gadolinium diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid-enhanced MRI over a 6-month period. The 12 patients in the secondary progressive group had a total of 109 new lesions over this time (18.2 lesions per patient per year) and 87% of these enhanced. Enhancement also occurred within and at the edge of preexisting lesions. In contrast, only 20 new lesions were seen in the primary progressive group (3.3 lesions per patient per year) and only one of these enhanced. There was no difference in the degree of clinical deterioration between the two groups over the 6-month period. These findings may indicate a difference in the dynamics of disease activity between the two forms of progressive MS, particularly in relation to the inflammatory component of the lesions, and have important implications for the selection of patients and the monitoring of disease activity in therapeutic trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Pentetic Acid


  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Pentetic Acid
  • Gadolinium DTPA