Cognitive deficits correlate with MRI changes in normal appearing brain tissue

Background:  The disease load in MS often is based on the visible lesion volume on MRI. The subtle changes in the  normal appearing brain tissue are rarely considered.

Study objectives: This study investigated whether MRI changes in the normal appearing brain tissue explained part of the cognitive impairment seen in MS'ers  

Results: In this study a significant correlation was found between total lesion volume (normal and abnormal appearing tissue) and general cognitive dysfunction, verbal intelligence, mental processing speed, visual problem solving and complex motor speed.

Conclusion:  These results show that even in the normal appearing brain tissue MRI detects changes likely to be associated with an underlying pathology and contributes to the cognitive impairment in MS.

Epub ahead of printLund et al. Cognitive deficits in multiple sclerosis: correlations with T2 changes in normal appearing brain tissue. Acta Neurol Scand. 2011 Jul 27. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2011.01574.x.

"This study confirms several other studies in that MRI lesion load correlates with cognitive impairment." 

"Some studies have shown that DMTs, which reduce the burden of disease, also slow the rate at which cognition is affected in MS'ers. Unfortunately, not all trials have collected relevant outcome data on cognition."

"I sincerely hope that the more effective DMTs that are emerging will have a greater impact on this hidden disability (very few neurologists check for cognitive impairment)."