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Retinal nerve fiber layer loss is associated with white but not grey matter damage in multiple sclerosis

Session Details

Session Title: Imaging II

Session Date/Time: Sunday 29/09/2013 | 08:00-10:00

Paper Time: 08:24

Venue: Hall G1 (Level 2)

First Author: S.Schippling SWITZERLAND

Co Author(s):                  

Abstract Details


In Multiple Sclerosis (MS) MRI measures of brain atrophy are associated with retinal measures of neuroaxonal damage. However, disease as opposed to age effects on OCT outcomes in early MS patients remain contradictory. It was the purpose of our prospective study, to cross-sectionally test the hypothesis that OCT measures of neuro-axonal degeneration are differentially related to global and partial brain atrophy in early forms of MS based on a pre-defined endpoint.


44 patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS, n=10) or relapsing remitting MS (RRMS, n=34) (mean disease duration=3.2 years, median EDSS=1.5) were enrolled in this prospective study.


Peripapillary- and volumetric OCT scans of the macula were performed using SD-OCT technology. Brain parenchymal fraction (BPF) as well as white and grey matter fractions (WMF/GMF) were assessed by 1.5 T MRI scans. Generalized estimating equation models (GEE) adjusted for age and linear regression statistics were used to assess the relation between OCT and MRI outcomes.


RNFL thickness, macular volume and age were significantly associated with BPF. RNFL thickness, and TMV independently predicted white matter- (p=0.003 and p=0.032) but not grey matter changes (p=0.717 and p=0.357) when corrected for age. In contrast, age was associated with grey- (p<0.001) but not white matter changes.


In conclusion it appears that at least in early stages of the disease, OCT measures of retinal atrophy indicate white- but not grey matter damage in MS. Our study further substantiates the strong association of retinal thinning and brain tissue loss in MS.

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