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Brain. 2010 Mar;133(Pt 3):847-57. doi: 10.1093/brain/awp334. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Brain tissue sodium concentration in multiple sclerosis: a sodium imaging study at 3 tesla.

Author information

1
Department of Radiology, New York University School of Medicine, 660 1st Avenue, 4th floor, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Abstract

Neuro-axonal degeneration occurs progressively from the onset of multiple sclerosis and is thought to be a significant cause of increasing clinical disability. Several histopathological studies of multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis have shown that the accumulation of sodium in axons can promote reverse action of the sodium/calcium exchanger that, in turn, leads to a lethal overload in intra-axonal calcium. We hypothesized that sodium magnetic resonance imaging would provide an indicator of cellular and metabolic integrity and ion homeostasis in patients with multiple sclerosis. Using a three-dimensional radial gradient-echo sequence with short echo time, we performed sodium magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T in 17 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and in 13 normal subjects. The absolute total tissue sodium concentration was measured in lesions and in several areas of normal-appearing white and grey matter in patients, and corresponding areas of white and grey matter in controls. A mixed model analysis of covariance was performed to compare regional tissue sodium concentration levels in patients and controls. Spearman correlations were used to determine the association of regional tissue sodium concentration levels in T(2)- and T(1)-weighted lesions with measures of normalized whole brain and grey and white matter volumes, and with expanded disability status scale scores. In patients, tissue sodium concentration levels were found to be elevated in acute and chronic lesions compared to areas of normal-appearing white matter (P < 0.0001). The tissue sodium concentration levels in areas of normal-appearing white matter were significantly higher than those in corresponding white matter regions in healthy controls (P < 0.0001). The tissue sodium concentration value averaged over lesions and over regions of normal-appearing white and grey matter was positively associated with T(2)-weighted (P < or = 0.001 for all) and T(1)-weighted (P < or = 0.006 for all) lesion volumes. In patients, only the tissue sodium concentration value averaged over regions of normal-appearing grey matter was negatively associated with the normalized grey matter volume (P = 0.0009). Finally, the expanded disability status scale score showed a mild, positive association with the mean tissue sodium concentration value in chronic lesions (P = 0.002), in regions of normal-appearing white matter (P = 0.004) and normal-appearing grey matter (P = 0.002). This study shows the feasibility of using in vivo sodium magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T in patients with multiple sclerosis. Our findings suggest that the abnormal values of the tissue sodium concentration in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis might reflect changes in cellular composition of the lesions and/or changes in cellular and metabolic integrity. Sodium magnetic resonance imaging has the potential to provide insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms of tissue injury when correlation with histopathology becomes available.

PMID:
20110245
PMCID:
PMC2842511
DOI:
10.1093/brain/awp334
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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