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Memory performance in multiple sclerosis patients correlates with central brain atrophy

: Hildebrandt, H.; Hahn, H.K.; Kraus, J.A.; Schulte-Herbrüggen, A.; Schwarze, B.; Schwendemann, G.


Multiple sclerosis 12 (2006), Nr.4, S.428-436
ISSN: 1352-4585
ISSN: 1477-0970
Fraunhofer MEVIS ()

Objective: To assess whole brain and central brain atrophy as well as their differential relation to memory, cognitive performance, fatigue, depression and quality of life in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Methods: A 3D flow compensated gradient recalled T1-weighted MRI was acquired in 45 RRMS patients. An automated analysis tool was used to calculate brain parenchymal fraction (BPF) and ventricular brain fraction (VF). All patients were assessed with neuropsychological tests focusing on memory and self-rating scales for depression, fatigue and quality of life. Age corrected partial correlations between brain atrophy, motor performance, psychological scales and test scores were calculated. Results: BPF correlated moderately (0.3 r < 0.5) with duration of symptoms and disease, the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), the upper extremity motor performance, and with mental aspects of quality of life. VF correlated moderately with EDSS, up per and lower extremity motor performance and memory functions. Neither BPF nor VF correlated with fatigue and depression. Results of several cognitive tests correlated moderately with depression and fatigue, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) showing the largest correlation. Conclusions: Memory performance shows a correlation with relative ventricular size in RRMS patients, indicating the strategic location of the ventricle system along the structures of the limbic system and its vulnerability in MS. The PASAT and several other cognitive tests show moderate correlations with depression and fatigue, arguing for an inter relation between the cognitive functioning and the emotional state of patients. However, this relation is independent of measurable brain atrophy.