Are you surprised that some MS lesions shrink in size?
It has nothing to do with quantum mechanics – Planck’s constant or Pym particles. However, it has been noted for a while now that in some individuals their MS lesions could shrink.
The prevailing hypothesis is that shrinking lesions represent resolution of the underlying inflammation or even possibly repair. Others believe, like other scars elsewhere, MS lesions also shrink in size over time.
The long and short of it is that nobody really knows.
So now a team in Germany have decided to study this phenomenon in greater detail. They looked at serial MRI scans from 144 PwMS at baseline (MRI 0), after 1 year (MRI 1), and after 3 years (MRI 3) – see figure 1 below.
What they found was that the greater proportion of shrinkage occurred in those individuals with gadolinium-enhancing lesions (see Figure 2 below).
Since, enhancement is thought to be marker of acute inflammation, shrinkage of lesions is most likely to be due to a waning of the blood brain barrier leak and reduction in inflammatory activity in these lesions.
The authors ask if this is an intuitive or a naive notion? …the short answer to this is, I don’t know.
Brain Behav. 2019 Sep 26:e01417. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1417. [Epub ahead of print]
Prognostic value of white matter lesion shrinking in early multiple sclerosis: An intuitive or naïve notion?
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
New or enlarging T2-hyperintense white matter lesions (WML) are associated with clinical disease progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). The prognostic value of WML shrinking is unclear. Assuming that waning of acute inflammation and repair processes would be the main drivers of WML shrinking, we aimed to assess the prognostic value of WML shrinking in early MS.
We retrospectively analyzed a cohort of 144 early MS patients with three brain MRI scans at baseline and after 1 and 3 years available. All patients were therapy naïve at baseline and 70.5% of them treated with disease modifying drugs at year 1. We determined the volume of WML shrinking between MRI scans, total WML volumes, number of gadolinium-enhancing and new WML, white matter (WM) and gray matter volumes at each MRI scan. Clinical disability was measured by Expanded Disability Status Scale. We performed the correlation analyses of WML shrinking with other MRI parameters and clinical outcome.
White matter lesions shrinking was highly variable between patients and correlated with the initial number of gadolinium-enhancing WML and with WM volume decrease. WML shrinking was not associated with clinical outcome.
We found no indication of a prognostic value of WML shrinking in early MS patients. WML shrinking seems to be related to waning of acute inflammation.