Brain Tissue Volumes and Perfusion Change with the Number of Optic Neuritis Attacks in Relapsing Neuromyelitis Optica: A Voxel-Based Correlation Study

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e66271. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066271. Print 2013.


Recent neuroimaging studies show that brain abnormalities in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) are more frequent than earlier described. Yet, more research considering multiple aspects of NMO is necessary to better understand these abnormalities. A clinical feature of relapsing NMO (RNMO) is that the incremental disability is attack-related. Therefore, association between the attack-related process and neuroimaging might be expected. On the other hand, the immunopathological analysis of NMO lesions has suggested that CNS microvasculature could be an early disease target, which could alter brain perfusion. Brain tissue volume changes accompanying perfusion alteration could also be expected throughout the attack-related process. The aim of this study was to investigate in RNMO patients, by voxel-based correlation analysis, the assumed associations between regional brain white (WMV) and grey matter volumes (GMV) and/or perfusion on one side, and the number of optic neuritis (ON) attacks, myelitis attacks and/or total attacks on the other side. For this purpose, high resolution T1-weighted MRI and perfusion SPECT imaging were obtained in 15 RNMO patients. The results showed negative regional correlations of WMV, GMV and perfusion with the number of ON attacks, involving important components of the visual system, which could be relevant for the comprehension of incremental visual disability in RNMO. We also found positive regional correlation of perfusion with the number of ON attacks, mostly overlapping the brain area where the WMV showed negative correlation. This provides evidence that brain microvasculature is an early disease target and suggests that perfusion alteration could be important in the development of brain structural abnormalities in RNMO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Recurrence
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study was supported by the Center for Neurological Restoration and the Cuban Neuroscience Center from Havana, Cuba. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.