RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Cervical spinal cord volume loss is related to clinical disability progression in multiple sclerosis.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the temporal evolution of spinal cord (SC) atrophy in multiple sclerosis (MS), and its association with clinical progression in a large MS cohort.

METHODS: A total of 352 patients from two centres with MS (relapsing remitting MS (RRMS): 256, secondary progressive MS (SPMS): 73, primary progressive MS (PPMS): 23) were included. Clinical and MRI parameters were obtained at baseline, after 12 months and 24 months of follow-up. In addition to conventional brain and SC MRI parameters, the annualised percentage brain volume change and the annualised percentage upper cervical cord cross-sectional area change (aUCCA) were quantified. Main outcome measure was disease progression, defined by expanded disability status scale increase after 24 months.

RESULTS: UCCA was lower in SPMS and PPMS compared with RRMS for all time points. aUCCA over 24 months was highest in patients with SPMS (-2.2% per year) and was significantly higher in patients with disease progression (-2.3% per year) than in stable patients (-1.2% per year; p=0.003), while annualised percentage brain volume change did not differ between subtypes (RRMS: -0.42% per year; SPMS -0.6% per year; PPMS: -0.46% per year) nor between progressive and stable patients (p=0.055). Baseline UCCA and aUCCA over 24 months were found to be relevant contributors of expanded disability status scale at month-24, while baseline UCCA as well as number of SC segments involved by lesions at baseline but not aUCCA were relevant contributors of disease progression.

CONCLUSIONS: SC MRI parameters including baseline UCCA and SC lesions were significant MRI predictors of disease progression. Progressive 24-month upper SC atrophy occurred in all MS subtypes, and was faster in patients exhibiting disease progression at month-24.

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