MRI correlates of disability in African-Americans with multiple sclerosis

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043061. Epub 2012 Aug 10.


Objectives: Multiple sclerosis (MS) in African-Americans (AAs) is characterized by more rapid disease progression and poorer response to treatment than in Caucasian-Americans (CAs). MRI provides useful and non-invasive tools to investigate the pathological substrate of clinical progression. The aim of our study was to compare MRI measures of brain damage between AAs and CAs with MS.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of 97 AAs and 97 CAs with MS matched for age, gender, disease duration and age at MRI examination.

Results: AA patients had significantly greater T2- (p = 0.001) and T1-weighted (p = 0.0003) lesion volumes compared to CA patients. In contrast, measurements of global and regional brain volume did not significantly differ between the two ethnic groups (p>0.1).

Conclusions: By studying a quite large sample of well demographically and clinically matched CA and AA patients with a homogeneous MRI protocol we showed that higher lesion accumulation, rather than pronounced brain volume decrease might explain the early progress to ambulatory assistance of AAs with MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Organ Size
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Whites
  • Young Adult