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eNeurologicalSci. 2018 Jul 4;12:42-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ensci.2018.07.002. eCollection 2018 Sep.

Brain and spinal cord MRI lesions in primary progressive vs. relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Author information

1
Departments of Neurology and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Laboratory for Neuroimaging Research, Partners MS Center, Harvard Medical School, USA.
2
Biostatistics Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Laboratory for Neuroimaging Research, Partners MS Center, Harvard Medical School, USA.

Abstract

Background:

Primary progressive (PP) multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered a clinically distinct entity from the spectrum of relapsing-remitting (RR) forms of the disease.

Objective:

To compare the presence of brain and spinal cord lesions between PP and RR subjects.

Methods:

We studied people with PPMS [n = 40, 17 (42.5%) men, age 50.7 ± 7.7 years, disease duration 10.1 ± 7.4 years, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score 4.6 ± 2.1] and RRMS [n = 40, 12 (30%) men, age 47.9 ± 4.2, disease duration 13.7 ± 5.9, EDSS 1.7 ± 1.3]. MRI of the brain and full spinal cord at 1.5T was analyzed to define patients having: 1. brain only, 2. spinal cord only, or 3. brain and spinal cord MS lesions.

Results:

Lesions in the brain only were less common in PP (n = 1, 2.5% of people) than RR (n = 10, 25%) (Fisher's exact p = 0.007). Lesions in the spinal cord only (PP: n = 6, 15%, RR: n = 3, 7.5%, p = 0.481) or brain plus spinal cord (PP: n = 33, 83%, RR: n = 27, 68%, p = 0.196) were similar between groups. PP had higher EDSS and timed 25-ft walk (Wilcoxon tests, both p < 0.001), higher age (t-test p = 0.049), lower disease duration (t-test, p = 0.02), and a similar sex ratio (Fisher's exact p = 0.352) vs. RR.

Conclusions:

We report a topographic difference in MRI lesion involvement between PPMS and RRMS. Lesions restricted to the brain are more common in RRMS. These findings provide support to the notion that PP may have features distinctive from the RR spectrum of the disease. Longitudinal comparisons and quantitative MRI analysis would be necessary to confirm and extend these results.

KEYWORDS:

Brain; Lesions; MRI; Multiple sclerosis; Primary progressive; Spinal cord

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