Cognitive Decline in Older People with Multiple Sclerosis—A Narrative Review of the Literature

Hsueh Sheng Chiang, Alka Khera, Barbara E. Stopschinski, Olaf Stuve, John Hart, Brendan Kelley, Trung Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Several important questions regarding cognitive aging and dementia in older people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) are the focus of this narrative review: Do older PwMS have worse cognitive decline compared to older people without MS? Can older PwMS develop dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that may be accelerated due to MS? Are there any potential biomarkers that can help to determine the etiology of cognitive decline in older PwMS? What are the neural and cellular bases of cognitive aging and neurodegeneration in MS? Current evidence suggests that cognitive impairment in MS is distinguishable from that due to other neurodegenerative diseases, although older PwMS may present with accelerated cognitive decline. While dementia is prevalent in PwMS, there is currently no consensus on defining it. Cerebrospinal fluid and imaging biomarkers have the potential to identify disease processes linked to MS and other comorbidities—such as AD and vascular disease—in older PwMS, although more research is required. In conclusion, one should be aware that multiple underlying pathologies can coexist in older PwMS and cause cognitive decline. Future basic and clinical research will need to consider these complex factors to better understand the underlying pathophysiology, and to improve diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number61
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive aging
  • cognitive decline
  • dementia
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Aging
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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