Comparison of grey matter atrophy between patients with neuromyelitis optica and multiple sclerosis: a voxel-based morphometry study

Eur J Radiol. 2012 Feb;81(2):e110-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2011.01.065. Epub 2011 Feb 11.


Purpose: Previous studies have established regional grey matter (GM) loss in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, whether there is any regional GM atrophy in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and the difference between NMO and MS is unclear. The present study addresses this issue by voxel-based morphometry (VBM).

Methods: Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and T1-weighted three-dimensional MRI were obtained from 26 NMO patients, 26 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients, and 26 normal controls. An analysis of covariance model assessed with cluster size inference was used to compare GM volume among three groups. The correlations of GM volume changes with disease duration, expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and brain T2 lesion volume (LV) were analyzed.

Results: GM atrophy was found in NMO patients in several regions of frontal, temporal, parietal lobes and insula (uncorrected, p < 0.001). While extensive GM atrophy was found in RRMS patients, including most cortical regions and the deep grey matter (corrected for multiple comparisons, p < 0.01). Compared with NMO, those with RRMS had significant GM loss in bilateral thalami, caudate, left parahippocampal gyrus, right hippocampus and insula (corrected, p < 0.01). In RRMS group, regional GM loss in right caudate and bilateral thalami were strongly correlated with brain T2LV.

Conclusions: Our study found the difference of GM atrophy between NMO and RRMS patients mainly in deep grey matter. The correlational results suggested axonal degeneration from lesions on T2WI may be a key pathogenesis of atrophy in deep grey matter in RRMS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity