Objective: To monitor the venous volumes in plaques of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) compared to an age-matched control group over a period of 3.5 years.
Methods: Ten MS patients underwent an annual neurological examination and MRI. Susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) combined with fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) or FLAIR-like contrast at 7 Tesla (7 T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used for manual segmentation of veins in plaques, in the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and in location-matched white matter of 9 age-matched controls. Venous volume to tissue volume ratio was assessed for each time point in order to describe the dynamics of venous volumes in MS plaques over time.
Results: MS plaques, which were newly detected during the study period, showed significantly higher venous volumes compared to the preplaque area 1 year before plaque detection and the corresponding NAWM regions. Venous volumes in established MS plaques, which were present already in the first scans, were significantly higher compared to the NAWM and controls.
Conclusions: Our data underpin a relation of veins and plaque development in MS and reflect increased apparent venous calibers due to increased venous diameters or increased oxygen consumption in early MS plaques.
Key points: • Longitudinal 7 T Magnetic Resonance Imaging study of intralesional veins in MS patients. • Venous volumes are significantly increased in newly detected and established MS plaques. • Venous volumes in established MS plaques show a trend to decrease with time.