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Magn Reson Med. 2006 Mar;55(3):478-83.

MR spectroscopic evidence for thalamic and hippocampal, but not cortical, damage in multiple sclerosis.

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MS Research Center, Dept. of Radiology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Gray matter (GM) damage is an important pathophysiological feature in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and may be related to clinical, including cognitive, deficits. Quantitative single-voxel (1)H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (TR/TE 6000/20 ms) was performed in 33 MS patients (11 per disease subtype; mean age 48 years, 16 females) and 10 healthy controls (mean age 43 years, 7 females). No overall spectroscopic changes were found in MS cortex. In MS thalamus, a 9% decrease of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA; P=0.005) and a 31% increase of myo-inositol (Ins; P=0.002) were found. A 21% Ins increase was observed (P=0.02) in MS hippocampus. Reduced NAA and increased Ins concentrations are thought to reflect neuro-axonal damage or loss and gliosis, respectively. Significant correlations between Ins concentrations and total-brain T(2) lesion load were found for MS thalamus (r=0.65, P<0.001) and hippocampus (r=0.57, P=0.001). MS thalamic and hippocampal Ins concentrations also correlated with each other (r=0.68; P<0.001). Cortical Gln correlated with thalamic NAA (r=-0.38; P=0.03) in MS. Thalamic and hippocampal Ins increases were most prominent in secondary-progressive (SP) patients (37% and 34%, respectively), whereas the largest thalamic NAA decrease (14%) was found in primary-progressive (PP) patients. In conclusion, thalamic and hippocampal GM pathology are important features of (progressive) MS.

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