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Neuroimage Clin. 2015 Mar 5;7:715-20. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2015.02.023. eCollection 2015.

Predictive value of different conventional and non-conventional MRI-parameters for specific domains of cognitive function in multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 22, Graz 8036, Austria.
Institute of Physiology, Medical University of Graz, Harrachgasse 21, Graz 8010, Austria ; Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institute, Gävlegatan 22, Stockholm 11330, Sweden.
Department of Neurology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 22, Graz 8036, Austria ; Department of Radiology, Division of Neuroradiology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 9, Graz 8036, Austria.



While many studies correlated cognitive function with changes in brain morphology in multiple sclerosis (MS), few of them used a multi-parametric approach in a single dataset so far. We thus here assessed the predictive value of different conventional and quantitative MRI-parameters both for overall and domain-specific cognitive performance in MS patients from a single center.


69 patients (17 clinically isolated syndrome, 47 relapsing-remitting MS, 5 secondary-progressive MS) underwent the "Brief Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Tests" assessing overall cognition, cognitive efficiency and memory function as well as MRI at 3 Tesla to obtain T2-lesion load (T2-LL), normalized brain volume (global brain volume loss), normalized cortical volume (NCV), normalized thalamic volume (NTV), normalized hippocampal volume (NHV), normalized caudate nuclei volume (NCNV), basal ganglia R2* values (iron deposition) and magnetization transfer ratios (MTRs) for cortex and normal appearing brain tissue (NABT).


Regression models including clinical, demographic variables and MRI-parameters explained 22-27% of variance of overall cognition, 17-26% of cognitive efficiency and 22-23% of memory. NCV, T2-LL and MTR of NABT were the strongest predictors of overall cognitive function. Cognitive efficiency was best predicted by NCV, T2-LL and iron deposition in the basal ganglia. NTV was the strongest predictor for memory function and NHV was particularly related to memory function.


The predictive value of distinct MRI-parameters differs for specific domains of cognitive function, with a greater impact of cortical volume, focal and diffuse white matter abnormalities on overall cognitive function, an additional role of basal ganglia iron deposition on cognitive efficiency, and thalamic and hippocampal volume on memory function. This suggests the usefulness of using multiparametric MRI to assess (micro)structural correlates of different cognitive constructs.


Cognition; Cognitive efficiency; Lesion load; Memory; Normalized cortical volume; Quantitative MRI

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