JAN 16, 2012
Investigators used MRI to quantify white matter, gray matter and deep gray matter structure volumes in patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS). They found that compared to age- and sex-matched controls, children with MS had a smaller overall head size, brain volume and thalamic volume.
Subjects were 38 patients (mean age 15.2 ± 2.4 years) and 33 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. MRI measures included intracranial volume, normalized brain volume, normalized white and gray matter volume, and volumes of the thalamus, globus pallidus, putamen and caudate. All measurements were normalized by computing z-scores using normative values obtained from healthy children enrolled in the MRI Study of Normal Brain Development.
Intracranial volume and brain volume were significantly lower in patients with MS compared to controls. After correction for global brain volume, thalamic volumes in the MS population remained lower than those of controls, indicating an even greater loss of thalamic tissue relative to more global brain measures. T2-weighted lesion load and disease duration were moderately correlated with thalamic volume and brain volume.
Given that head size is largely determined by brain growth in the first 10 years of life, the smaller head size of pediatric patients with MS raises the possibility that MS onset during childhood affects primary brain and skull growth