Age of onset in multiple sclerosis (MS) exerts an influence on the course of disease. This study examined whether global and regional brain volumes differed between “younger” and “older” onset MS subjects who were matched for short disease duration, mean 1.9 years and burden as measured by the MS Severity Score and relapses. 21 younger-onset MS subjects (age 30.4 ± 3.2 years) were compared with 17 older-onset (age 48.7 ± 3.3 years) as well as age-matched controls (n = 31, 31.9 ± 3.5 years and n = 21, 47.3 ± 4.0 years). All subjects underwent 3D volumetric T1 and T2-FLAIR imaging. White matter (WM) and grey matter (GM) lesions were outlined manually. Lesions were filled prior to tissue and structural segmentation to reduce classification errors. Volume loss versus control was predominantly in the subcortical GM, at > 13% loss. Younger and older-onset MS subjects had similar, strong excess loss in the putamen, thalamus, and nucleus accumbens. No excess loss was detected in the amygdala or pallidum. The hippocampus and caudate showed significant excess loss in the younger group (p < 0.001) and a strong trend in the older-onset group. These results provide a potential imaging correlate of published neuropsychological studies that reported the association of younger age at disease onset with impaired cognitive performance, including decreased working memory.
Bishop, C. A., Newbould, R. D., Lee, J. S. Z., Honeyfield, L., Quest, R., Colasanti, A., … Waldman, A. D. (2017). Analysis of ageing-associated grey matter volume in patients with multiple sclerosis shows excess atrophy in subcortical regions. NeuroImage: Clinical, 13, 9–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2016.11.005