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Longitudinal evaluation of brain damage with magnetic resonance imaging in multiple sclerosis patients and its relationship with clinical and immunological factors

Author(s):
Alfredo Damasceno
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Institution: Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Faculdade de Ciências Médicas
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Doralina Guimarães Brum Souza; Elizabeth Regina Comini Frota; Marcondes Cavalcante França Junior; Márcio Luiz Figueredo Balthazar
Advisor: Fernando Cendes
Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that affects about 2.5 million people worldwide. MS entails a significant economic impact due to both motor and cognitive functional impairments. In recent decades, the study and understanding of MS have benefited from advances in neuroimaging techniques. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to study both the natural history and to monitor the effectiveness of treatments, but the correlation of conventional MRI findings with clinical data is not yet fully satisfactory. Thus, there has been great interest in other MRI techniques, including the assessment of grey matter. Nevertheless, despite advances in neuroimmunology and neuroimaging, there are few data that can predict the long-term disability in MS patients. Therefore, our goal was to identify clinical and MRI factors related to a worse clinical outcome in patients with MS. Initially, we surveyed the data of 197 patients followed in the outpatient clinic of the MS center at UNICAMP University Hospital, gathering clinical and epidemiologic information and the time to achieve specific scores on EDSS disability scale. The median time from onset to the assignment of a disability score of 6 was 25.8 years, but male patients, especially those with frequent relapses in the first years of disease, and with involvement of the brainstem or cerebellum showed a worse outcome. Subsequently, we established a smaller subgroup of patients in order to study the longitudinal behavior of brain pathology as seen by MRI and its relationship to clinical and cognitive disability. We followed for a period of 24 months, 43 patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 29 healthy subjects, who underwent neurological examination, neuropsychological testing and brain MRI. At baseline, performance on clinical and neuropsychological tests was worse in the patients group, and 44.2% were classified as having cognitive dysfunction. Worse performance on neuropsychological battery was associated with the presence of subclinical MRI activity, with a high burden of cortical lesions and atrophy of the corpus callosum. In addition, worse clinical disability was also associated with these cortical lesions, both those in the brain as those present in the cerebellar cortex. As the presence of MRI subclinical disease activity was an important indicator of cognitive impairment, coupled with the fact that there are no strong biological markers so far, we assessed the production of proinflammatory cytokines in a subgroup of 15 patients and compared with MRI data. We found that patients with subclinical active MRI lesions had significantly higher production of proinflammatory cytokines, 10-fold greater in IFN-? and 22-fold in TNF-?. The group of 43 patients was followed longitudinally and after 24 months grey-matter atrophy was 2.57% in the cortex and 3.8% in subcortical structures, both rates significantly higher than in the control group. The presence of thalamus atrophy at the baseline was associated with an increased risk of cognitive dysfunction after 2 years. Furthermore, the presence of a high load of cortical lesions at baseline was related to a 5.14 fold increased risk of clinical disability after 24 months. It can be concluded that both cortical and subcortical grey matter are diffusely affected in MS patients, and that this damage progresses considerably over a period of two years, with important clinical and cognitive impact. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 10/00885-4 - Longitudinal evaluation of cerebral atrophy and cortical thickness and its relationship with clinical and immunological factors in patients with multiple sclerosis
Grantee:Alfredo Damasceno
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)