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Effect of Treatment with Interferon Beta-1a on Changes in Voxel-Wise Magnetization Transfer Ratio in Normal Appearing Brain Tissue and Lesions of Patients with Relapsing–Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: A 24-Week, Controlled Pilot Study

Robert Zivadinov, Michael G. Dwyer, Silva Markovic-Plese, Cheryl Kennedy, Niels Bergsland, Deepa P. Ramasamy, Jacqueline Durfee, David Hojnacki, Brooke Hayward, Fernando Dangond, Bianca Weinstock-Guttman

PLOS one, March 13, 2014

Background
This pilot study investigated changes in remyelinating and demyelinating activity in normal appearing brain tissue (NABT) and lesions, by using voxel-wise magnetization transfer ratio (VW-MTR), in patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) receiving interferon beta-1a 44 mcg subcutaneously (IFN β-1a SC) three times weekly versus healthy controls (HCs) (NCT01085318).

Methods
Increasing (suggestive of remyelination) and decreasing (suggestive of demyelination) VW-MTR changes in NABT and in T2, T1 and gadolinium (Gd)-enhancing lesion volume were measured over 24 weeks in 23 patients treated with IFN β-1a SC and in 15 HCs (where applicable). VW-MTR changes were tested using the Wilcoxon signed–rank or Wilcoxon rank–sum test.

Results
A trend for greater volume of NABT with increasing VW-MTR at 24 weeks was observed for patients versus HCs (median [range] 1206 [0–15278]; 342 [0–951] mm3; p = 0.061). NABT volume with increasing VW-MTR at 12 weeks was significantly greater in patients than in HCs (852 [6–11577]; 360 [0–1755] mm3; p = 0.028). Similar findings were detected for lesion volumes. Two patients with notably high numbers of Gd-enhancing lesions at baseline had a markedly greater volume of tissue with increasing VW-MTR compared with other patients. Volume of NABT tissue with decreasing VW-MTR was significantly greater in patients versus HCs at 24 weeks (942 [0–6141]; 297 [0–852] mm3; p<0.001).

Conclusions
The significant change in NABT volume with increasing VW-MTR at 12 weeks suggests that active remyelination in patients with RRMS may occur during treatment with IFN β-1a SC. Findings from two patients with the highest number of Gd-enhancing lesions at baseline suggest that extensive remyelination in NABT may occur in patients with high disease activity. Tissue volume with decreasing VW-MTR was greater in patients than in HCs, despite treatment, validating the sensitivity of this technique for detecting MS disease activity.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

This online Resource Centre has been made possible by a donation from EMD Serono, Inc., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

The Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation
supports promising translational research projects by academic researchers to improve understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of patients.  For full information and application details, please click here

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Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, September 2015, Vol 4 Issue 5