New MRI Technique Might Help Spot MS Sooner

Friday, January 7, 2022 – Researchers in Austria say a new magnetic resonance imaging technology may lead to faster diagnosis and treatment for people with multiple sclerosis.

This technology can detect biochemical changes in the brains of people with multiple sclerosis early in their disease, according to results published Jan. 4 in the journal. rays.

“MRI allows neurochemicals to detect changes in the brain of MS patients in areas that would otherwise appear blurred on conventional MRI,” said senior study author Wolfgang Bugner, from the Center for Higher Magnetic Resonance at the Medical University of Vienna. “Visible changes in the neurochemistry of normal-appearing brain tissue are associated with patients’ disabilities.”

Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, affects nearly 3 million people worldwide. There is no cure and it can cause fatigue, pain, and poor coordination. Physical therapy and medication can slow its progression.

Currently, MS can be detected in lesions in the brain’s white matter on a standard MRI. These lesions are associated with loss of the protective layer around nerve fibers known as myelin. This is tissue damage visible to the naked eye but finding the damage when it is still microscopic or in a biochemical stage would be better.

The researchers say an advanced imaging technology, called magnetic resonance proton spectroscopy, can detect substances produced during metabolism that have a potential link to multiple sclerosis.

They used this to compare biochemical changes in the brains of 65 people with MS with 20 healthy people. They used an MRI scanner with a powerful 7 Tesla (T) magnet.

The team found low levels of an amino acid derivative called N-acetylaspartate (NAA) in MS patients. Low levels of NAA have been linked to impaired integrity of neurons in the brain.

People with MS also showed elevated levels of myo-inositol (MI), a compound involved in cell signaling. Higher levels can indicate significant inflammatory disease activity.

The researchers said the findings demonstrate a potential role for the new MRI technology in visualizing MS beyond the removed lesions.

“Some neurochemical changes, particularly those associated with neuroinflammation, occur early in the disease course and may not only be associated with disability, but also predict further progression such as the formation of multiple sclerosis lesions,” said study lead author Eva. Hekova, also of the High Field MR Center. She said the changes detected by the new imaging technology could have important clinical applications.

However, more work is needed to confirm the results.

“If confirmed in longitudinal clinical studies, this new neuroimaging technology could become a standard imaging tool for initial diagnosis, disease progression and treatment monitoring for patients with multiple sclerosis, and, in coordination with MRI, may contribute to neurologists’ treatment strategies,” Bogner said in a statement. Press reporter.

more information

The US National Library of Medicine has more on multiple sclerosis.

Source: Radiological Society of North America, press release, January 4, 2022

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