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J Neurol Sci. 2009 Jul 15;282(1-2):112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Jan 24.

Gray matter atrophy and disability progression in patients with early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a 5-year longitudinal study.

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Department of Neurology, Charles University in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic.


We assessed the relationship between gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) atrophy and clinical status in early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) patients over 5 years. A group of 181 patients who participated in the ASA (Avonex-Steroid-Azathioprine) study and had complete clinical and MRI assessments over 2 and 5 years was investigated. One hundred seventy (170) patients completed the 12-month follow-up, 147 the 24-month, 98 the 36-month, 65 the 48-month and 47 the 60-month. Changes in GM (GMV), WM (WMV) and peripheral GM (PGV) volumes, whole brain volume (percentage brain volume change PBVC), lateral ventricle volume (LVV), third ventricle width (3VW) and T2-lesion volume (T2-LV) were measured. Patients were assigned according to their clinical status to one of two groups: the Stable group, and the Reached Confirmed Sustained Progression (RCSP) group (24-week interval). At 0-6 months PBVC and GMV, at 0-12 months PBVC, GMV and T2-LV, at 0-24 months PBVC and GMV, at 0-36 months PBVC, GMV and T2-LV, and at 0-48 PBVC predicted the differences between the RCSP and Stable groups. PBVC and LVV showed the strongest ability to differentiate patients who presented 0 or >or=3 relapses in the Stable group. Decline in PBVC and GMV were predictive markers of disability deterioration. Correlation of T2-LV with clinical status was weaker and decreased over time. Higher number of relapses was associated with faster decline in whole brain volume.

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