Optic nerve damage in so called benign MS.

Huang-Link YM, Fredrikson M, Link H. Benign Multiple Sclerosis is Associated with Reduced Thinning of the Retinal Nerve Fibre and Ganglion Cell Layers in Non-Optic-Neuritis Eyes. J Clin Neurol. 2015 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: It is exceedingly difficult to differentiate benign multiple sclerosis (BMS) from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis(RRMS) based on clinical characteristics, neuroimaging, and cerebrospinal fluid tests. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows quantification of retinal structures, such as the retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness, at the optic disc and the ganglion cell layer (GCL) at the macula, on a micrometer scale. It can also be used to trace minor alterations and the progression of neurodegeneration, help predict BMS, and influence the choice of therapy. To utilize OCT to detect the extent of changes of the optic disk and macular microstructure in patients with BMS and RRMS compared to healthy controls (HCs), with special focus on changes related to the presence/absence of optic neuritis (ON).
METHODS: Spectral-domain OCT was applied to examine eyes from 36 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), comprising 11 with BMS and 25 with RRMS, and 34 HCs.
RESULTS: The RNFL and GCL were significantly thinner in eyes previously affected by ON, irrespective of the type of MS (i.e., BMS or RRMS), than in HCs. Significant thinning of the GCL was also observed in non-ON RRMS (and not non-ON BMS) compared to HCs. Correspondingly, a significant association between disease duration and thinning rates of the RNFL and GCL was observed only in non-ON RRMS (-0.54±0.24 and -0.43±0.21 microm/year, mean±SE; p<0.05 for both), and not in non-ON BMS (-0.11±0.27 and -0.24±0.24 microm/year).
CONCLUSIONS: The RNFL and GCL were thinner in both ON- and non-ON MS, but the change was more pronounced in ON MS, irrespective of the MS subtype studied herein. GCL thinning and the thinning rate of both the GCL and RNFL were less pronounced in non-ON BMS than in non-ON RRMS. These findings may help to predict the course of BMS.

Recently ProfG has been arguing that Benign MS is a misnomer and people with so called benign MS have evidence of damage as shown by thinning of nerves within the retina. 

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