Background: Atrophied T2-lesion volume (LV) is a novel MRI marker representing brain-lesion loss due to atrophy, able to predict long-term disability progression and conversion to secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).
Objective: To better characterize atrophied T2-LV via comparison with other multidisciplinary markers of MS progression.
Methods: We studied 127 MS patients (85 relapsing-remitting, RRMS and 42 progressive, PMS) and 20 clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) utilizing MRI, optical coherence tomography, and serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) at baseline and at 5-year follow-up. Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) was obtained at follow-up. Atrophied T2-LV was calculated by combining baseline lesion masks with follow-up CSF partial-volume maps. Measures were compared between MS patients who developed or not disease progression (DP). Partial correlations between atrophied T2-LV and other biomarkers were performed, and corrected for multiple comparisons.
Results: Atrophied T2-LV was the only biomarker that significantly differentiated DP from non-DP patients over the follow-up (p = 0.007). In both DP and non-DP groups, atrophied T2-LV was associated with baseline T2-LV and T1-LV (both p = 0.003), absolute change of T1-LV (DP p = 0.038; non-DP p = 0.003) and percentage of brain volume change (both p = 0.003). Furthermore, in the DP group, atrophied T2-LV was related to baseline brain parenchymal (p = 0.017) and thalamic (p = 0.003) volumes, thalamic volume change and follow-up SDMT (both p = 0.003). In non-DP patients, atrophied T2-LV was significantly related to baseline sNfL (p = 0.008), contrast-enhancing LV (p = 0.02) and percentage ventricular volume change (p = 0.003).
Conclusion: Atrophied T2-LV is associated with disability accrual in MS, and to several multimodal markers of disease evolution.
Keywords: Atrophied T2-lesion volume; Cognition; Disease progression; MRI; Multiple sclerosis; Neurodegeneration; Optical coherence tomography; Serum neurofilament light chain.