Loss of corticospinal tract integrity in early MS disease stages

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Abstract

Objective:

We investigated corticospinal tract (CST) integrity in the absence of white matter (WM) lesions using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in early MS disease stages.

Methods:

Our study comprised 19 patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), 11 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), and 32 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, for whom MRI measures of CST integrity (fractional anisotropy [FA], mean diffusivity [MD]), T1- and T2-based lesion load, and brain volumes were available. The mean (SD) disease duration was 3.5 (2.1) months, and disability score was low (median Expanded Disability Status Scale 1.5) at the time of the study.

Results:

Patients with CIS and RRMS had significantly lower CST FA and higher CST MD values compared with controls. These findings were present, irrespective of whether WM lesions affected the CST. However, no group differences in the overall gray or WM volume were identified.

Conclusions:

In early MS disease stages, CST integrity is already affected in the absence of WM lesions or brain atrophy.

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