New Study Explores Brain Damage in MS Patients with Autoimmune Comorbidities

New Study Explores Brain Damage in MS Patients with Autoimmune Comorbidities

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who also suffer from other autoimmune conditions, like thyroid disease or diabetes, have more severe brain damage than MS patients without comorbidities, according to a study from the University at Buffalo. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology.

An earlier report from the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis suggested that MS patients with additional diseases have an increased risk for disability progression. Researchers had earlier established that there is an association between cardiovascular disease and lesion load in MS, but the impact of other conditions on disease progression is not known.

The study, Autoimmune Comorbidities Are Associated with Brain Injury in Multiple Sclerosis, analyzed the medical records of 815 MS patients, of whom 241 had comorbid conditions and 574 did not. Most had one comorbid disease, but 42 had two or more conditions in addition to MS. The research team analyzed comorbid disease in relation to measures of brain tissue injury acquired by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The most frequently encountered conditions were thyroid disease, present in 11.9 percent of these MS patients, followed by asthma, type 2 diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Brain tissue injury in these patients was localized to gray matter, particularly to the cortex, the team found. Psoriasis, thyroid disease, and type 2 diabetes — all conditions with an autoimmune component — were specifically associated with more severe MRI outcomes.

In addition to analyzing conventional lesion load, the team looked at data of unconventional MRI measures, such as brain atrophy, magnetization transfer imaging, and diffusivity. Researchers noted that evidence of brain tissue damage was found mostly with the unconventional techniques, and that an association between comorbidities and brain injury might, therefore, not be detected using only lesion burden MRI measures.

Although the team found a link between three autoimmune conditions and brain injury, researchers did not analyze all comorbidities present because of the limited number of patients. It is possible that also other conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes mellitus, Crohn’s disease, and myasthenia gravis are also associated with more severe brain injury in MS.

Since the study analyzed only the presence of comorbidities and brain injury in a cross-sectional manner, the team could not conclude that the comorbidities caused an accelerated disease progression. More research is needed to establish the nature of these relationships.

6 comments

  1. KH, a real-life Primary Progressive MS patient. You may have never actually met one. says:

    Excuse me but how are we supposed to believe these results when all you did was study the medical records of 815 MS patients? How can you even call that a representative sample? This is not science, this is a wild, lazy stab in the dark at spawning yet ANOTHER unproven MS myth. And THIS, my friends, is where the MS charity money goes. NONE of it benefits patients in any way at all. It goes to hazy research foundations that justify their pay by producing myths and old-wives’ tales based on .0001% (not mathematically accurate) of all MS patients. Let me know when you people actually do something about my PPMS.

    • Marcie says:

      And where did you receive YOUR PhDs? Yes, that’s plural, as in the plural PhDs held in relevant disciplines held by the author of this article. The unnecessarily rude, angry, and inexplicably blaming tone of your response to the author of this piece is simply astonishing. What exactly qualifies YOU to rebuke her – or the RESEARCHERS, who are scientists, for anything, anyway? And what exactly is it about this article here that set you off? Clearly neither you nor any of the other readers have all the facts, so you have no basis for your attack in the first place.

      I get it, you have PPMS. But is it the world’s fault? This author’s fault? The fault of the researchers referred to in the article, or pharmaceutical companies that have to date failed to produce a cure for you? You sound as though you are blaming the author, the researchers, and everyone else for your disease. You need to get a grip. Your irrational bitterness will only destroy whatever life you do have. You don’t “deserve” any more consideration than any of the rest of us among the 2.5 MILLION MS sufferers, ma’am. The indignant arrogance displayed in this comment is childish, and underscores the current societal attitude that it’s somehow ok to spew all the vulgar, vile, vicious, incorrect/false, hateful, negative garbage they wish without any regard for the effect it has on anyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think we’d all find the world a better place if we could only observe common courtesy and manners again. Please consider therapy for your irrational anger and blaming behavior before it causes you any more problems than you already obviously have.

      • Jodi johnston says:

        Great comment Marcie! My name is Jodi and I live in Cranbrook CB Canada and I also have PPMS. I do not blame anybody for me getting it! I went to India for the CCSVI treatment and I think it really helped me. What has helped me walk better the last few years is a drug that came out due to research done to figure it out. I am very thankful for this medication! The next treatment I want to get it a stem cell transplant done in Ottawa or wherever it comes closer. I would get on a plane in a heartbeat to have it done. I have been told that I have actually had MS for decades regarding my MRI as well as my neurologist and I don’t want to go on for another one or two decades. Yes my moods are not very good but I don’t go after anyone who is trying to help!!

        Jodi

    • Jodi johnston says:

      Great comment Marcie! My name is Jodi and I live in Cranbrook CB Canada and I also have PPMS. I do not blame anybody for me getting it! I went to India for the CCSVI treatment and I think it really helped me. What has helped me walk better the last few years is a drug that came out due to research done to figure it out. I am very thankful for this medication! The next treatment I want to get it a stem cell transplant done in Ottawa or wherever it comes closer. I would get on a plane in a heartbeat to have it done. I have been told that I have actually had MS for decades regarding my MRI as well as my neurologist and I don’t want to go on for another one or two decades. Yes my moods are not very good but I don’t go after anyone who is trying to help!!

      Jodi

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