Association of iron rim lesions with brain and cervical cord volume in relapsing multiple sclerosis
Objectives. In multiple sclerosis (MS), iron rim lesions (IRLs) are indicators of chronic low-grade inflammation and ongoing tissue destruction. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship of IRLs with clinical measures and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers, in particular brain and cervical cord volume. Methods. Clinical and MRI parameters from 102 relapsing MS patients (no relapses for at least 6 months, no contrast-enhancing lesions) were included; follow-up data obtained after 12 months was available in 49 patients. IRLs were identified on susceptibility-weighted images (SWIs). In addition to standard brain and spinal cord MRI parameters, normalised cross-sectional area (nCSA) of the upper cervical cord was calculated. Results. Thirty-eight patients had at least one IRL on SWI MRI. At baseline, patients with IRLs had higher EDSS scores, higher lesion loads (brain and spinal cord), and lower cortical grey matter volumes and a lower nCSA. At follow-up, brain atrophy rates were higher in patients with IRLs. IRLs correlated spatially with T1-hypointense lesions. Conclusions. Relapsing MS patients with IRLs showed more aggressive MRI disease characteristics in both the cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses.