Brain atrophy and clinical characteristics predicting SDMT performance in multiple sclerosis: A 10-year follow-up study

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin. 2021 Feb 8;7(1):2055217321992394. doi: 10.1177/2055217321992394. eCollection 2021 Jan-Mar.


Objectives: To identify Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), clinical and demographic biomarkers predictive of worsening information processing speed (IPS) as measured by Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT).

Methods: Demographic, clinical data and 1.5 T MRI scans were collected in 76 patients at time of inclusion, and after 5 and 10 years. Global and tissue-specific volumes were calculated at each time point. For the primary outcome of analysis, SDMT was used.

Results: Worsening SDMT at 5-year follow-up was predicted by baseline age, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), SDMT, whole brain volume (WBV) and T2 lesion volume (LV), explaining 30.2% of the variance of SDMT. At 10-year follow-up, age, EDSS, grey matter volume (GMV) and T1 LV explained 39.4% of the variance of SDMT change.

Conclusion: This longitudinal study shows that baseline MRI-markers, demographic and clinical data can help predict worsening IPS. Identification of patients at risk of IPS decline is of importance as follow-up, treatment and rehabilitation can be optimized.

Keywords: Atrophy; MRI; biomarkers; cognition; longitudinal; multiple sclerosis.