The cohort of 759 patients involved in the study ranged in age from 36-56, with an average disability score of 3.4 on a scale of 0-10. A higher number indicates more disability.
Of these patients, 478 had relapsing-remitting MS, involving acute attacks with full or partial recovery; 222 had secondary-progressive MS, characterized by occasional attacks and sustained progression; 30 had primary-progressive MS with steady worsening from onset, and 29 had experienced their first attack.
Twenty-six percent, or 198, had a positive family history of MS. The breakdown between first-, second- or third-degree relatives with MS was 81/35/82. All patients obtained full clinical and quantitative MRI evaluations.
Using MRI, researchers measured the number and volume of lesions (plaques), which represent areas of demeylination; atrophy of the whole brain, white matter (the neural pathways), grey matter (brain regions) and the cortex, as well as employing additional imaging techniques.
There were no significant differences between familial and sporadic cases based on age, disease duration, disease course, disability score and total lifetime use of disease-modifying drugs.
Analysis showed that compared to patients with no family history of MS, familial MS patients had significantly more destructed lesions, and significantly lower volume of whole brain, white matter and gray matter, as well as other indications of greater brain degradation.
Patients whose parents, children or siblings [first-degree relatives] had MS showed more damage than patients who had cousins with MS, Zivadinov said. This indicates that the closer the relationship, the greater the risk of MS.
Of particular interest is the finding of more severe gray matter damage and more lesions, particularly in those with MS in first-degree relatives. These findings are very in
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University at Buffalo