Developing easy to perform routine MRI measurements as potential surrogates for cognitive impairment in MS
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OBJECTIVES: One of the most frequently disabling symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is cognitive impairment which is often insidious in onset and therefore difficult to recognize in the early stages, for both persons with MS and clinicians. A biomarker that would help identify those at risk of cognitive impairment, or with only mild impairment, would be a useful tool for clinicians. Using MRI, already an integral tool in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease activity in MS, would be ideal. Thus, this study aimed to determine if simple measures on routine MRI could serve as potential biomarkers for cognitive impairment in MS. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively identified 51 persons with MS who had a cognitive assessment and MRI within six months of the MRI. Simple linear measurements of the hippocampi, bifrontral and third ventricular width, bicaudate width and the anterior, mid and posterior corpus callosum were made. Pearson's correlations examined the relationship between these MRI measures and cognitive tests, and MRI measures were compared in persons with MS who were either normal or cognitively impaired on objective cognitive tests using Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). RESULTS: Bicaudate span and third ventricular width were both negatively correlated, while corpus callosal measures were positive correlated with cognitive test performance. After controlling for potential confounders, bicaudate span was significant different on measures of immediate recall. Both anterior and posterior corpus collosal measure were significantly different on measures of verbal fluency, immediate recall and higher executive function; while the anterior corpus callosum was also significantly different on processing speed. The middle corpus collosal measure was significantly different on immediate recall and higher executive function. CONCLUSION: This study presents data demonstrating that simple to apply MRI measures of atrophy may serve as biomarkers for cognitive impairment in persons with MS. Further prospective studies are needed to validate these findings.
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