In subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS), pathology is more frequent near the inner and outer surfaces of the brain. Here, we sought to explore if in subjects with primary progressive MS (PPMS) cortical lesion load is selectively associated with the severity of periventricular normal appearing white matter (NAWM) damage, as assessed with diffusion weighted imaging. To this aim, twenty-four subjects with PPMS and twenty healthy controls were included in the study. Using diffusion data, skeletonized mean diffusivity (MD) NAWM maps were computed excluding WM lesions and a 2 mm-thick peri-lesional rim. The supra-tentorial voxels between 2 and 6 mm of distance from the lateral ventricles were included in the periventricular NAWM mask while the voxels between 6 and 10 mm from the lateral ventricles were included in the deep NAWM mask; mean MD values were then computed separately for these two masks. Lastly, cortical lesions were assessed on phase-sensitive inversion recovery (PSIR) images and cortical thickness was quantified on volumetric T1 images. Our main result was the observation in the PPMS group of a significant correlation between periventricular NAWM MD values and cortical lesion load, with a greater cortical lesion burden being associated with more abnormal periventricular NAWM MD. Conversely, there was no correlation between cortical lesion load and deep NAWM MD values or periventricular WM lesions. Our data thus suggest that a common – and relatively selective - factor plays a role in the development of both cortical lesion and periventricular NAWM abnormalities in PPMS.
- Multiple sclerosis