Losing grey matter?

Ageing makes MS brain atrophy worse. #MSBlog #MSResearch

“Another study showing brain atrophy in RRMSers. Not surprising was the inverse correlation between cortical gray matter atrophy and age. I assume this is due to age-related changes exacerbating the neurodegenerative component of MS. This is why we need new therapies that target ageing in MS.”

Narayana et al. Regional cortical thickness in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis: A multi-center study. Neuroimage. 2013 ;2:120-31.

Background: A comprehensive analysis of the global and regional values of cortical thickness based on 3D magnetic resonance images was performed on 250 relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who participated in a multi-center, randomized, phase III clinical trial (the CombiRx Trial) and 125 normal controls. 

Methods: The MS cohort was characterized by relatively low clinical disability and short disease duration. An automatic pipeline was developed for identifying images with poor quality and artifacts. The global and regional cortical thicknesses were determined using FreeSurfer software. 

Results: Both global cortical thinning and regional cortical thinning were more prominent in the left hemisphere relative to the right hemisphere. Modest correlation was observed between cortical thickness and clinical measures that included the extended disability status scale and disease duration. Modest correlation was also observed between cortical thickness and T1-hypointense and T2-hyperintense lesions. These correlations were very similar at 1.5 T and 3 T field strengths. A much weaker inverse correlation between cortical thickness and age was observed among the MS subjects compared to normal controls. This age-dependent correlation was also stronger in males than in females. The values of cortical thickness were very similar at 1.5 T and 3 T field strengths. However, the age-dependent changes in both global and regional cortical thicknesses were observed to be stronger at 3 T relative to 1.5 T.

Conclusion: Our results indicate significant cortical thinning in multiple regions in the MS patient cohort relative to the controls. 

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • What do you mean by new therapies that target ageing in MS? I'm guessing it means decades of research which will not benefit those of us with MS today. Can we rename the blog 'A blog which shows that MS is way, way worse that we initially thought'?

    Shouldn't research focus on repair? The immunosuppressant drugs don't seem to make too much difference to how this disease pans out. Perhaps finding treatments which repair the damage done (keep pace with the destruction) is the future. All very depressing stuff!

  • Dear Profs and Docs,
    What is your understanding about fasting and anti-aging? Would this be a possible avenue to try as a therapy that may help change the course? Or do fasting and MS not mix due to other factors?

By Prof G



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