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Blacks with MS have more severe symptoms, decline faster than whites, new study shows
Date:2/5/2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Fewer African Americans than Caucasians develop multiple sclerosis (MS), statistics show, but their disease progresses more rapidly, and they don't respond as well to therapies, a new study by neurology researchers at the University at Buffalo has found.

Magnetic resonance images (MRI) of a cohort of 567 consecutive MS patients showed that blacks with MS had more damage to brain tissue and had less normal white and grey matter compared to whites with the disease.

Results of the study were published ahead of print on Jan. 20 at http://www.neurology.org and appear in the Feb. 16 issue of the journal Neurology.

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, UB associate professor of neurology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is first author on the study. Weinstock-Guttman directs the Baird Multiple Sclerosis Center in Kaleida Health's Buffalo General Hospital.

"Black patients showed more brain tissue damage and accumulated brain lesions faster than whites, along with rapid clinical deterioration," confirms Weinstock-Guttman. "The results provide further support that black patients experience a more severe disease, calling for individualized therapeutic interventions for this group of MS patients."

"White matter" refers to the parts of the brain that contain nerve fibers sheathed in a white fatty insulating protein called myelin. The white matter is responsible for communication between the various grey matter regions, where nerve cells are concentrated and where cognitive processing occurs.

"Initially, multiple sclerosis was considered primary a white-matter disease," says Weinstock-Guttman, "but today we know that the gray matter may be more affected than white matter."

In general, black MS patients tend to have more severe and more frequent attacks, followed by an incomplete recovery even after the first episode. Studies on
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-4606
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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