Patients with Primary/Progressive Multiple Sclerosis may develop severe disability despite a paucity of Lesions on conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, raising the possibility that intrinsic changes in Normal-Appearing White Matter (NAWM) contribute to disability.
This study has measured Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR), an index of tissue damage, of NAWM in 52 patients with Primary/Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and 26 healthy controls.
Absolute values of MTR were obtained from the Genu of the Corpus Callosum and Pons, and mean values were calculated from bilateral regions in the Centrum Semiovale, Frontal White Matter, Parieto-Occipital White Matter and posterior limb of the Internal Capsule.
The median MTR was lower in all regions in patients compared to controls. Median values (per cent units) were significantly lower in:
- Corpus Callosum (39.73 vs 40.63; P=0.01)
- Frontal White Matter (39.11 vs 39.59; P=0.01)
- Centrum Semiovale (37.21 vs 37.82; P<0.05)
This study has demonstrated small but widespread decreases in MTR in NAWM in Primary/Progressive Multiple Sclerosis supporting the hypothesis that there are intrinsic changes in NAWM which may contribute to Disability in this patient group.