Nerve Injury in Early Multiple Sclerosis is Permanent

Extent of injury does not predict disease progression

MONDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A novel magnetic resonance imaging technique shows that axonal injury in the early stages of multiple sclerosis is permanent but does not predict the progression of the disease, researchers report in the November issue of Neurology.

Massimo Filippi, M.D., of the University Ospedale San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, and colleagues used MRI to examine the levels of whole brain N-acetylaspartate (WBNAA) as a measure of axonal viability. Using this technique, the group asked whether neuronal damage was permanent or transient in clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) of pre-multiple sclerosis, and whether WBNAA could predict conversion to multiple sclerosis or poorer prognosis.

The authors found that 24 out of 35 patients with CIS showed dissemination in time over the one-year study period, fulfilling the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The average level of WBNAA was lower in CIS patients than in controls both at baseline and one-year follow-up, but the two groups did not differ in yearly change in WBNAA.

"The novel findings of this study are that... damage is still present one year after the CIS onset and its severity is independent of the disease evolution in terms of clinical or MRI evidence of dissemination in time," the authors write.

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