Children and adolescents diagnosed with multiple sclerosis rarely accrue physical disability early in their disease. This could be explained by greater remyelination in children, a capacity that may be lost in adolescence or early adulthood. Magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) MRI can be used to quantify changes in myelin in MS. We used serial MTR imaging and longitudinal random effects analysis to quantify recovery of MTR in acute lesions and to evaluate MTR changes in normal-appearing tissue in 19 adolescent MS patients. Our objective was to determine whether younger adolescents have a greater capacity for remyelination and whether this decreases as patients approach adulthood. We detected a significant decrease in MTR recovery between ages 16 and 20 years (p = 0.023), with older subjects approaching typical recovery levels for adult-onset MS. MTR recovery in acute MS lesions decreases with age in adolescents, suggesting loss of remyelination capacity. This may be related to the conclusion of primary myelination or other developmental factors.
Keywords: MRI; Multiple sclerosis; Pediatric multiple sclerosis; Remyelination.