Background: We evaluated imaging features suggestive of neurodegeneration within the brainstem and upper cervical spinal cord (UCSC) in non-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). Methods: Standardized 3-Tesla three-dimensional brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies were prospectively acquired. Rates of change in volume, surface texture, curvature were quantified at the pons and medulla-UCSC. Whole and regional brain volumes and T2-weighted lesion volumes were also quantified. Independent regression models were constructed to evaluate differences between those of Black or African ancestry (B/AA) and European ancestry (EA) with non-progressive MS. Results: 209 people with MS (pwMS) having at least two MRI studies, 29% possessing 3–6 timepoints, resulted in 487 scans for analysis. Median follow-up time between MRI timepoints was 1.33 (25th–75th percentile: 0.51–1.98) years. Of 183 non-progressive pwMS, 88 and 95 self-reported being B/AA and EA, respectively. Non-progressive pwMS demonstrated greater rates of decline in pontine volume (p < 0.0001) in B/AA and in medulla-UCSC volume (p < 0.0001) for EA pwMS. Longitudinal surface texture and curvature changes suggesting reduced tissue integrity were observed at the ventral medulla-UCSC (p < 0.001), dorsal pons (p < 0.0001) and dorsal medulla (p < 0.0001) but not the ventral pons (p = 0.92) between groups. Conclusions: Selectively vulnerable regions within the brainstem-UCSC may allow for more personalized approaches to disease surveillance and management.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Multiple Sclerosis Journal|
|State||Accepted/In press - 2022|
- Multiple sclerosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology