Gray matter trophism, cognitive impairment, and depression in patients with multiple sclerosis

E Pravatà, MA Rocca, P Valsasina, GC Riccitelli, C. Gobbi, G Comi, A Falini, M Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cognitive impairment and depression frequently affects patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the relationship between the occurrence of depression and cognitive impairment and the development of cortical atrophy has not been fully elucidated yet. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association of cortical and deep gray matter (GM) volume with depression and cognitive impairment in MS. METHODS: Three-dimensional (3D) T1-weighted scans were obtained from 126 MS patients and 59 matched healthy controls. Cognitive impairment was assessed using the Brief Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Tests and depression with the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Using FreeSurfer and FIRST software, we assessed cortical thickness (CTh) and deep GM volumetry. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) variables explaining depression and cognitive impairment were investigated using factorial and classification analysis. Multivariate regression models correlated GM abnormalities with symptoms severity. RESULTS: Compared with controls, MS patients exhibited widespread bilateral cortical thinning involving all brain lobes. Depressed MS showed selective CTh decrease in fronto-temporal regions, whereas cognitive impairment MS exhibited widespread fronto-parietal cortical and subcortical GM atrophy. Frontal cortical thinning was the best predictor of depression ( C-statistic = 0.7), whereas thinning of the right precuneus and high T2 lesion volume best predicted cognitive impairment ( C-statistic = 0.8). MADRS severity correlated with right entorhinal cortex thinning, whereas cognitive impairment severity correlated with left entorhinal and thalamus atrophy. CONCLUSION: MS-related depression is linked to circumscribed CTh changes in areas deputed to emotional behavior, whereas cognitive impairment is correlated with cortical and subcortical GM atrophy of circuits involved in cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1864-1874
Number of pages11
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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