Multiple Sclerosis Severity Scale and whole-brain N-acetylaspartate concentration for patients' assessment

D. J. Rigotti, A. Gass, L. Achtnichts, M. Inglese, J. S. Babb, Y. Naegelin, J. Hirsch, M. Amann, L. Kappos, O. Gonen

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7 Scopus citations


Background: The ability to predict the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) is highly desirable but lacking.Objective: To test whether the MS Severity Scale (MSSS) and global neuronal viability, assessed through the quantification of the whole-brain N-acetylaspartate concentration (WBNAA), concur or complement the assessment of individual patients' disease course.Methods: The MSSS and average WBNAA loss rate (δWBNAA, extrapolated based on one current measurement and the assumption that at disease onset neural sparing was similar to healthy controls, obtained with proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) from 61 patients with MS (18 male and 43 female) with long disease duration (15 years or more) were retrospectively examined. Some 27 patients exhibited a 'benign' disease course, characterized by an Expanded Disability Status Scale score (EDSS) of 3.0 or less, and 34 were 'non-benign': EDSS score higher than 3.0.Results: The two cohorts were indistinguishable in age and disease duration. Benign patients' EDSS and MSSS (2.1 ± 0.7, 1.15 ± 0.60) were significantly lower than non-benign (4.6 ± 1.0, 3.6 ± 1.2; both p < 10-4). Their respective average δWBNAA, 0.10 ± 0.16 and 0.11 ± 0.12 mM/year, however, were not significantly different (p > 0.7). While MSSS is both sensitive to (92.6%) and specific for (97.0%) benign MS, δWBNAA is only sensitive (92.6%) but not specific (2.9%).Conclusion: Since the WBNAA loss rate is similar in both phenotypes, the only difference between them is their clinical classification, characterized by MSSS and EDSS. This may indicate that 'benign' MS probably reflects fortuitous sparing of clinically eloquent brain regions and better utilization of brain plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-107
Number of pages10
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Multiple Sclerosis Severity Scale (MSSS)
  • N-acetylaspartate (NAA)
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • proton MR spectroscopy (1H-MRS)
  • whole-brain NAA (WBNAA)


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