Author(s): Amato MP, Portaccio E, Goretti B, Zipoli V, Battaglini M,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: We previously reported selective decreases of neocortical volumes in patients with early relapsing-remitting (RR) multiple sclerosis (MS) with mild cognitive impairment, with a good correlation between cortical volumes and cognitive measures. OBJECTIVE: To assess the relevance of gray matter changes over time to changes in cognition in RRMS. DESIGN: A longitudinal survey after 2.5 years. Each patient underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol identical to that performed at baseline; cognitive performance was reassessed with the Rao Brief Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Tests in Multiple Sclerosis. SETTING: Two university MS clinics. PATIENTS: Of 41 patients with RRMS who participated in the original cross-sectional study, 28 were available for the follow-up evaluation (18 women; mean +/- SD age, 37.1 +/- 8.9 years; mean +/- SD MS duration, 7.3 +/- 2.9 years; mean +/- SD Expanded Disability Status Scale score, 1.8 +/- 1.5). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We measured the percentage of brain volume changes, normalized cortical volume (NCV) changes, and normalized deep gray matter volume changes on conventional T1-weighted MRIs and changes in lesion load on T2-weighted MRIs. The number of tests failed on the Rao Brief Repeatable Battery were used to classify the patients as cognitively deteriorating or stable or improving. RESULTS: We identified 12 of 28 cognitively deteriorating and 16 of 28 stable or improving patients. These subgroups did not differ in the mean +/- SD percentage of brain volume changes (-2.1\% +/- 1.2\% vs -1.3\% +/- 1.3\%; P = .11), normalized deep gray matter volume changes (-2.1 +/- 2.8 mL vs -0.6 +/- 3.1 mL; P = .60), and changes in lesion load on T2-weighted MRIs (1.9 +/- 2.6 mL vs 1.6 +/- 2.3 mL; P = .73). However, NCV changes were significantly higher in deteriorating than in stable or improving patients (-43.0 +/- 18.9 mL vs -17.8 +/- 26.6 mL; P = .007). In deteriorating patients, NCV changes were correlated with performance in a verbal fluency test (r = 0.73; P < .001). In a regression model, only NCV changes were significantly associated with deteriorating cognitive performance (odds ratio, 0.8; 95\% confidence interval, 0.7-0.9). CONCLUSION: Progressive neocortical gray matter loss is relevant to MS-associated cognitive impairment and may represent a sensitive marker of deteriorating cognitive performance in RRMS.
This article was published in Arch Neurol
and referenced in Journal of Multiple Sclerosis