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Imaging correlates of visual function in multiple sclerosis.


No single neuroimaging technique or sequence is capable of reflecting the functional deficits manifest in MS. Given the interest in imaging biomarkers for short- to medium-term studies, we aimed to assess which imaging metrics might best represent functional impairment for monitoring in clinical trials. Given the complexity of functional impairment in MS, however, it is useful to isolate a particular functionally relevant pathway to understand the relationship between imaging and neurological function. We therefore analyzed existing data, combining multiparametric MRI and OCT to describe MS associated visual impairment. We assessed baseline data from fifty MS patients enrolled in ReBUILD, a prospective trial assessing the effect of a remyelinating drug (clemastine). Subjects underwent 3T MRI imaging, including Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI), myelin content quantification, and retinal imaging, using OCT. Visual function was assessed, using low-contrast letter acuity. MRI and OCT data were studied to model visual function in MS, using a partial, least-squares, regression analysis. Measures of neurodegeneration along the entire visual pathway, described most of the observed variance in visual disability, measured by low contrast letter acuity. In those patients with an identified history of ON, however, putative myelin measures also showed correlation with visual performance. In the absence of clinically identifiable inflammatory episodes, residual disability correlates with neurodegeneration, whereas after an identifiable exacerbation, putative measures of myelin content are additionally informative.

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