A matter of atrophy: differential impact of brain and spine damage on disability worsening in multiple sclerosis.

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As atrophy represents the most relevant driver of progression in multiple sclerosis (MS), we investigated the impact of different patterns of brain and spinal cord atrophy on disability worsening in MS. We acquired clinical and MRI data from 90 patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 24 healthy controls (HC). Clinical progression at follow-up (mean 3.7 years) was defined according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale-Plus. Brain and spinal cord volumes were computed on MRI brain scans. After normalizing each participants’ brain and spine volume to the mean of the HC, z-score cut-offs were applied to separate pathologically atrophic from normal brain and spine volumes (accepting a 2.5% error probability). Accordingly, MS patients were classified into four groups (Group I: no brain or spinal cord atrophy N = 40, Group II: brain atrophy/no spinal cord atrophy N = 11, Group III: no brain atrophy/ spinal cord atrophy N = 32, Group IV: both brain and spinal cord atrophy N = 7). All patients’ groups showed significantly lower brain volume than HC (p 

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Authors: Serena Ruggieri, Maria Petracca, Laura De Giglio, Francesca De Luca, Costanza Giannì, Flavia Gurreri, Nikolaos Petsas, Silvia Tommasin, Carlo Pozzilli, Patrizia Pantano