Imaging chronic active lesions in multiple sclerosis: a consensus statement

Brain. 2024 Jan 16:awae013. doi: 10.1093/brain/awae013. Online ahead of print.


Chronic active lesions (CAL) are an important manifestation of chronic inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) and have implications for non-relapsing biological progression. In recent years, the discovery of innovative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PET derived biomarkers has made it possible to detect CAL, and to some extent quantify them, in the brain of persons with MS, in vivo. Paramagnetic rim lesions on susceptibility-sensitive MRI sequences, MRI-defined slowly expanding lesions on T1-weighted (T1-w) and T2-w scans, and 18-kDa translocator protein-positive lesions on PET are promising candidate biomarkers of CAL. While partially overlapping, these biomarkers do not have equivalent sensitivity and specificity to histopathological CAL. Standardization in the use of available imaging measures for CAL identification, quantification, and monitoring is lacking. To fast-forward clinical translation of CAL, the North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis Cooperative developed a Consensus Statement, which provides guidance for the radiological definition and measurement of CAL. The proposed manuscript presents this Consensus Statement, summarizes the multistep process leading to it, and identifies the remaining major gaps in knowledge.

Keywords: MRI-defined slowly evolving lesions; chronic active lesions; iron; microglia; multiple sclerosis; paramagnetic rim lesions.