Purpose: Different studies showed correlations between gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA) administrations and dentate nucleus (DN) T1-weighted hyperintensity. The clinical impact of gadolinium retention, however, is still largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate relations between MRI and clinical disability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RR-MS) patients.
Methods: In this retrospective study, clinical data were obtained from 74 RR-MS patients at baseline and after a mean follow-up time of 3.6 years, including the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score and its change (ΔEDSS). Patients were considered showing clinical worsening if they score a ΔEDSS ≥ 1 (for baseline EDSS ≤ 5.5) or ΔEDSS ≥ 0.5 (for baseline EDSS > 5.5). From the MRI data, the presence of bilateral DN hyperintensity was recorded along with the calculation of longitudinal relaxation rate (R1) maps.
Results: Patients with DN hyperintensity showed similar ΔEDSS change compared to those without visible changes on T1-weighted images (p = 0.32). Similarly, no DN-R1 difference was found comparing stable patients with those showing a significant clinical worsening (p = 0.54). Finally, no significant effect of DN-R1 values explained the variance in ΔEDSS (p = 0.76), thus suggesting their independence from the clinical outcome.
Conclusions: MS patients with DN hyperintensity show similar EDSS changes compared to subjects without DN high-signal intensity. Furthermore, mean DN-R1 values of patients with significant clinical worsening were comparable to those of stable subjects and were unrelated to clinical disability. Taken together, these findings suggest that gadolinium retention in the brain of MS patients does not affect their clinical worsening, expressed by the EDSS change.
Keywords: EDSS; GBCA accumulation; Gadolinium-based contrast agents; Multiple sclerosis.