Smoking May Increase Brain Injury in Multiple Sclerosis

Current and former smoking linked to blood-brain barrier disruption, lesion volume and atrophy

TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with multiple sclerosis, smokers are more likely to have increased blood-brain barrier disruption, lesion volumes and brain atrophy, according to a study in the Aug. 18 issue of Neurology.

Robert Zivadinov, M.D., of the State University of New York in Buffalo, and colleagues compared MRI results in 368 patients (median age, 44 years) with a median disease duration of 12.1 years. Of these, 240 were identified as never-smokers and 128 were identified as current or former smokers.

The researchers found that median Expanded Disability Status Scale scores were significantly higher among active or former smokers than among never-smokers (3.0 versus 2.5). They also found that smoking was associated with a higher number of contrast-enhancing lesions, decreased brain parenchymal fraction, and increased lateral ventricle volume and third ventricle width.

"Our findings provide evidence for a link between smoking and brain injury and could be important for providing the support for antismoking education in schools and more targeted smoking cessation programs to patients with multiple sclerosis," the authors conclude. "The potential mechanisms are still unclear, but the growing body of epidemiologic evidence for the association of cigarette smoking and multiple sclerosis warrants further investigation with well-designed prospective studies with MRI measures."

Authors of the study reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Published on August 18, 2009

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