Association between brain and upper cervical spinal cord atrophy assessed by MRI and disease aggressiveness in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Mohamed Mounir El Mendili, Annie Verschueren, Jean Philippe Ranjeva, Maxime Guye, Shahram Attarian, Wafaa Zaaraoui, Aude Marie Grapperon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: To study the relative contributions of brain and upper cervical spinal cord compartmental atrophy to disease aggressiveness in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Methods: Twenty-nine ALS patients and 24 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC) were recruited. Disease duration and the Revised-ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R) at baseline, 3- and 6-months follow-up were assessed. Patients were clinically differentiated into fast (n=13) and slow (n=16) progressors according to their ALSFRS-R progression rate. Brain grey (GM) and white matter, brainstem sub-structures volumes and spinal cord cross-sectional area (SC-CSA) at C1-C2 vertebral levels were measured from a 3D-T1-weighted MRI. Results: Fast progressors showed significant GM, medulla oblongata and SC atrophy compared to HC (p<0.001, p=0.013 and p=0.008) and significant GM atrophy compared to slow progressors (p=0.008). GM volume correlated with the ALSFRS-R progression rate (Rho /p=-0.487/0.007), the ALSFRS-R at 3-months (Rho /p=0.622/0.002), and ALSFRS-R at 6-months (Rho /p=0.407/0.039). Medulla oblongata volume and SC-CSA correlated with the ALSFRS-R at 3-months (Rho /p=0.510/0.015 and Rho /p=0.479/0.024). MRI measures showed high performance to discriminate between fast and slow progressors. Conclusion: Our study suggests an association between compartmental atrophy and disease aggressiveness. This result is consistent with the combination of upper and lower motor neuron degeneration as the main driver of disease worsening and severity in ALS. Our study highlights the potential of brain and spinal cord atrophy measured by MRI as biomarker of disease aggressiveness signature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1403
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroradiology
Volume65
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Atrophy
  • Brain
  • Disease aggressiveness
  • MRI
  • Spinal cord

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