Purpose: Cigarette smoking has been associated with increased occurrence of multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as clinical disability and disease progression in MS. We aimed to assess the effects of smoking on the white matter (WM) in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) using diffusion tensor imaging.
Methods: Smoker patients with CIS (n=16), smoker healthy controls (n=13), nonsmoker patients with CIS (n=17) and nonsmoker healthy controls (n=14) were included. Thirteen regions-of-interest including nonenhancing T1 hypointense lesion and perilesional WM, and 11 normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) regions were drawn on color-coded fractional anisotropy (FA) maps. Lesion load was determined in terms of number and volume of WM hyperintensities.
Results: A tendency towards greater lesion load was found in smoker patients. T1 hypointense lesions and perilesional WM had reduced FA and increased mean diffusivity to a similar degree in smoker and nonsmoker CIS patients. Compared with healthy smokers, smoker CIS patients had more extensive NAWM changes shown by increased mean diffusivity. There was no relationship between diffusion metrics and clinical disability scores, duration of the disease and degree of smoking exposure.
Conclusion: Smoker patients showed a tendency towards having greater number of WM lesions and displayed significantly more extensive NAWM abnormalities.