Brain atrophy in benign MS

Another post in response to the question about benign MS.

Gauthier et al. Rate of brain atrophy in benign vs early multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol. 2009 Feb;66(2):234-7.
BACKGROUND: Benign MS is defined by minimal or no disability after many years of observation, therefore a less degenerative disease process is suspected to be present in this subset of patients.

OBJECTIVE: To compare brain atrophy rates in patients with long-standing benign MS vs typical early MS.

PATIENTS: 39 MS'ers with clinically defined benign MS and an age-matched group of 40 MS'ers with early RRMS.

RESULTS: The mean (SD) annualized brain atrophy rate in MS'ers with benign MS (-0.16% [0.51%]) was lower than that in patients with early MS (-0.46% [0.72%]) (P = .02). The difference remained significant after controlling for age, sex, and treatment (P = .04).

CONCLUSIONS: Serial magnetic resonance imaging revealed a low 2-year rate of brain atrophy in MS'ers with clinically benign MS, suggesting a less prominent degenerative component in its pathogenesis than in patients with typical early MS. Identification of patients with a low rate of brain atrophy may indicate a benign course.

"This MRI study does suggest that MS'ers with 'benign MS' behave differently to MS'ers with RRMS. The downside is that benign MS'ers still had brain atrophy. Is this benign disease? I don't think so."