Objective: To investigate the longitudinal spinal cord and brain changes in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS) and their associations with disability progression.
Patients and methods: We recruited 28 NMO, 22 MS, and 20 healthy controls (HC), who underwent both spinal cord and brain MRI at baseline. Twenty-five NMO and 20 MS completed 1-year follow-up. Baseline spinal cord and brain lesion loads, mean upper cervical cord area (MUCCA), brain, and thalamus volume and their changes during a 1-year follow-up were measured and compared between groups. All the measurements were also compared between progressive and non-progressive groups in NMO and MS.
Results: MUCCA decreased significantly during the 1-year follow-up in NMO not in MS. Percentage brain volume changes (PBVC) and thalamus volume changes in MS were significantly higher than NMO. MUCCA changes were significantly different between progressive and non-progressive groups in NMO, while baseline brain lesion volume and PBVC were associated with disability progression in MS. MUCCA changes during 1-year follow-up showed association with clinical disability in NMO.
Conclusion: Spinal cord atrophy changes were associated with disability progression in NMO, while baseline brain lesion load and whole brain atrophy changes were related to disability progression in MS.
Key points: • Spinal cord atrophy progression was observed in NMO. • Spinal cord atrophy changes were associated with disability progression in NMO. • Brain lesion and atrophy were related to disability progression in MS.
Keywords: Brain; MRI; Mean upper cervical cord area; Multiple sclerosis; Neuromyelitis optica.