BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Magnetic resonance images (MRI) of a large group of patients with multiple sclerosis has provided the first evidence that those with a history of MS in their families show more severe brain damage than patients who have no close relatives with the disease.
The results, based on brain MRIs of 759 consecutive MS patients, support the hypothesis that a patients genetic make-up plays a role not only in development but also in severity of the disease.
A University at Buffalo team of neurologists and imaging experts headed by Robert Zivadinov, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology, conducted the research at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC), which Zivadinov directs. The BNAC is an arm of the Jacobs Neurology Institute, UBs Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Patients were recruited at the Baird MS Center, also part of the Jacobs Neurological Institute.
The research findings were presented today (Friday, Oct. 12) at the 23rd Congress of the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Prague, Czech Republic.
From the early 1980s on, said Zivadinov, MS researchers thought that genetic factors likely played a role in the disease, that its traits were determined by several different genes, and our findings support this hypothesis.
Our MRI analysis showed a difference between the severity of disease characteristics in familial MS patients versus what we call sporadic, or non-familial, MS patients, he said. These differences may be related to some disease-modifying genes, but to prove this, we must do further investigation.
MS destroys myelin, the fatty sheath that protects nerve fibers carrying message traffic from various muscles to and from the central nervous system. For reasons currently unknown, in some people the myelin sheath breaks down, resulting in destruction of the nerve fibers and the symptoms of MS.
This demyelization process le
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