Comparison of MS clinical phenotypes using conventional and magnetization transfer MRI

Massimo Filippi, G. Iannucci, C. Tortorella, L. Minicucci, M. A. Horsfield, B. Colombo, M. P. Sormani, G. Comi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To identify differences in pathology between the principal clinical phenotypes of MS using conventional and magnetization transfer (MT) MRI. Methods: T1-weighted and T2-weighted images as well as MT scans were obtained from 20 controls, 21 patients presenting with clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS, and 93 MS patients with relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, benign, or primary progressive course. Metrics considered: hypointense T1 and T2 lesion volumes, average lesion MT ratio, average brain MT ratio, peak height and position from MT histograms. Results: MS patients had lower MT metrics than controls. Patients with clinically isolated syndromes had MT measures similar to controls, whereas primary progressive MS patients had lower histogram peak height with normal peak position. Relapsing-remitting MS patients had lower MT measures, higher T2 lesion load and ratio of hypointense T1 to T2 lesion volumes than patients with clinically isolated syndromes, and lower MT ratio and peak height than benign MS patients. Benign MS patients were similar to controls and patients with clinically isolated syndromes. Secondary progressive MS patients had the lowest MT measures and highest lesion loads. Conclusions: Pathology in patients with clinically isolated syndromes is confined to modest tissue damage in the lesions seen on T2-weighted scans. Severe damage is important for the later development of disability. However, microscopic damage in normal-appearing white matter may be a major contributor to disability in primary progressive MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-594
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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