Research: Imaging African Americans a case for immunomodulation


Multiple sclerosis (MS) in African-Americans (AAs) is characterized by
more rapid disease progression and poorer response to treatment than in
Caucasian-Americans (CAs). MRI provides useful and non-invasive tools to
investigate the pathological substrate of clinical progression. The aim
of our study was to compare MRI measures of brain damage between AAs
and CAs with MS.

Retrospective analysis of 97 AAs and 97 CAs with MS matched for age,
gender, disease duration and age at MRI examination.
AA patients had significantly greater T2- (p = 0.001) and T1-weighted
(p = 0.0003) lesion volumes compared to CA patients. In contrast,
measurements of global and regional brain volume did not significantly
differ between the two ethnic groups (p>0.1).

By studying a quite large sample of well demographically and clinically
matched CA and AA patients with a homogeneous MRI protocol we showed
that higher lesion accumulation, rather than pronounced brain volume
decrease might explain the early progress to ambulatory assistance of
AAs with MS.

study suggests that African Americans may have a a larger lesion
number, which accounts for a more rapid disease progression than white
Americans, which may occur. This would suggest that more aggressive immunomodulation  may
be a useful approach to treatment. More aggressive disease is related to more aggressive MRI lesion load no matter what the skin colour or ethnic origin so the study is self-fulfilling. It does not tell us anything about why there is a higher lesion load.

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1 comment

  • This is interesting as similar research is taking place right now in the UK to assess why British Asians tend to have a more aggressive disease than norm.

    Asians, like Afro-Caribbeans, have bodies designed for life in hot climates, where high-doses of vitamin D and harsh levels of sunshine is common. No wonder their bodies suffer in cold climates.

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