Localised grey matter atrophy in multiple sclerosis is network-based: a coordinate-based meta-analysis

Clin Radiol. 2019 Oct;74(10):816.e19-816.e28. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Aug 14.


Aim: To test the network degeneration hypothesis in multiple sclerosis (MS) with a two-stage coordinate-based meta-analysis by: (1) characterising regional selectivity of grey matter (GM) atrophy and (2) testing for functional connectivity involving these regions.

Materials and methods: Meta-analytic sources included 33 journal articles (1,666 MS patients and 1,269 healthy controls) with coordinate-based results from voxel-based morphometry analysis demonstrating GM atrophy. Mass univariate and multivariate coordinate-based meta-analyses were performed to identify a convergent pattern of GM atrophy and determine inter-regional co-activation (as a surrogate of functional connectivity), with anatomical likelihood estimation and functional meta-analytic connectivity modelling, respectively.

Results: Localised GM atrophy was demonstrated in the thalamus, putamen, caudate, sensorimotor cortex, insula, superior temporal gyrus, and cingulate gyrus. This convergent pattern of atrophy displayed significant inter-regional functional co-activations.

Conclusion: In MS, GM atrophy was regionally selective, and these regions were functionally connected. The meta-analytic model-based results of this study are intended to guide future development of quantitative neuroimaging markers for diagnosis, evaluating disease progression, and monitoring treatment response.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neuroimaging