Although cognitive impairment is common in multiple sclerosis (MS), its pathophysiology is still poorly understood. Abnormalities of cerebral blood flow (CBF) have long been acknowledged in MS and advances in perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow for their assessment in vivo. We investigated the relationship between regional perfusion changes and neuropsychological (NP) dysfunctions in patients with relapsing-remitting and primary-progressive MS. Absolute CBF, cerebral blood volume (CBV) and mean transit time were measured in 32 MS patients and 11 healthy controls using dynamic susceptibility contrast-enhanced T2(*)-weighted MRI. A comprehensive NP test battery was administered to all patients. A mixed model analysis of covariance was performed for group comparisons in terms of perfusion measures in normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and deep gray matter (GM). Pearson's correlations were used to describe the association of perfusion metrics with NP Z-scores. CBF and CBV values were significantly decreased in both NAWM and deep GM in MS patients compared with controls (P=0.01). In all patients, deep GM CBF was significantly associated with Rey Complex Figure Test (RCFT)-Copy (r=0.5; P=0.001) and deep GM CBV and NAWM CBV were significantly associated with Color-Word Interference Inhibition Switching test (D-KEFSIS) (r=0.4; P=0.008 and r=0.4; P=0.02). However, the only associations that remained significant after Bonferroni correction were between deep GM CBF and RCFT-Copy (P=0.006), and deep GM CBV and D-KEFSIS (P=0.04). Our results suggest a role for tissue perfusion impairment in NP dysfunction in MS. Large-scale studies are needed to characterize better this association.
- multiple sclerosis
- neuropsychological impairment
- perfusion MR imaging
- primary-progressive MS
- relapsing-remitting MS