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Arch Neurol. 2004 Sep;61(9):1409-12.

European study on intravenous immunoglobulin in multiple sclerosis: results of magnetization transfer magnetic resonance imaging analysis.

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  • 1Neuroimaging Research Unit, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy.



Magnetization transfer magnetic resonance imaging (MT MRI) can provide in vivo markers reflecting the severity of multiple sclerosis-related brain damage occurring within and outside T2-visible lesions.


To investigate the effect of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment on the accumulation of brain damage in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), measured using MT MRI.Design, Patients, and Intervention Seventy patients with SPMS participating in the European, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of IVIG in SPMS underwent brain T2-weighted and MT MRI at baseline and after 12 and 24 months. The MT MRI scans were post-processed and analyzed to obtain MT ratio values from T2-visible lesions and MT ratio histograms from the normal-appearing brain tissue (NABT).


At baseline, a significant difference was found for NABT MT ratio histogram peak height (P =.003) between treated patients and patients receiving placebo. No significant differences between treated patients and those receiving placebo were found for any of the considered MT MRI-derived metrics in terms of treatment x time interaction. Nevertheless, over the 24-month period, the placebo patients experienced a 6.75% reduction of the NABT MT ratio histogram peak height, whereas treated patients experienced only a 0.92% reduction of the NABT MT ratio histogram peak height.


This study did not show any statistically significant effect of IVIG on MT MRI quantities. Nevertheless, the markedly different percentage change of the NABT MT ratio histogram peak height over time between patients receiving placebo and treated patients suggests a possible role of IVIG treatment in preventing the loss of "truly" normal brain tissue in SPMS patients.

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