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. 2011 Dec;17(12):1432-40.
doi: 10.1177/1352458511414602. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

Pronounced Focal and Diffuse Brain Damage Predicts Short-Term Disease Evolution in Patients With Clinically Isolated Syndrome Suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis

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Pronounced Focal and Diffuse Brain Damage Predicts Short-Term Disease Evolution in Patients With Clinically Isolated Syndrome Suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis

E Sbardella et al. Mult Scler. .

Abstract

Background: In clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), the role of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in detecting prognostic markers is still debated.

Objective: To evaluate measures of diffuse brain damage (such as brain atrophy and the ratio of N-acetylaspartate to creatine (NAA/Cr)) in patients with CIS, in addition to focal lesions, as predictors of 1-year disease evolution.

Methods: 49 patients with CIS underwent MRI scans to quantify T2-lesions (T2-L) and gadolinium-enhanced lesion (GEL) number at baseline and after 1 year. Along with 25 healthy volunteers, they also underwent combined MRI/magnetic resonance spectroscopy examination to measure normalized brain volumes (NBVs) and NAA/Cr. Occurrence of relapses and new T2-L was recorded over 1 year to assess disease evolution.

Results: Occurrence of relapses and/or new T2-L over 1 year divided patients with CIS into 'active' and 'stable' groups. Active patients had lower baseline NAA/Cr and NBV. Baseline T2-L number, GEL, NAA/Cr and NBV predicted subsequent disease activity. Multivariable logistic regression models showed that both 'focal damage' (based on T2-L number and GEL) and 'diffuse damage' (based on NBV and NAA/Cr) models predicted disease activity at 1 year with great sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. This was best when the four MRI measures were combined (80% sensitivity, 89% specificity, 83% accuracy).

Conclusions: Quantitative MRI measures of diffuse tissue damage such as brain atrophy and NAA/Cr, in addition to measures of focal demyelinating lesions, may predict short-term disease evolution in patients with CIS, particularly when used in combination. If confirmed in larger studies, these findings may have important clinical and therapeutic implications.

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