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STUDY: Fatigue and brain atrophy link

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  • STUDY: Fatigue and brain atrophy link

    If we can delay or slow brain atrophy through aggressive aerobic exercise, would that then minimize multiple sclerosis fatigue? - Dave

    Atrophy of reward-related striatal structures in fatigued MS patients is independent of physical disability

    Departamento de Neurologia, Rua Tessália Vieira de Camargo, 126, Cidade Universitária Zeferino Vaz, Campinas – SP –Brazil.


    Background: MRI studies have shown gray-matter abnormalities in fatigued multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. However, given that physical disability is highly correlated to MS fatigue, it is often difficult to disentangle its effect in these MRI findings.

    Objective: The objective of this research paper is to investigate gray-matter damage in mildly disabled MS patients, addressing which variables were better related to fatigue while controlling for physical disability and depression.

    Methods: Forty-nine relapsing–remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 30 controls underwent MRI (3T). Fatigue was assessed using the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS). Multivariate logistic regression was performed to assess the contribution of clinical and MRI metrics to fatigue. Statistical analyses were performed controlling for disability and depression.

    Results: Fatigue was present in 22 (44.9%) patients. FSS score was highly correlated with EDSS (p = 0.00001). Patients with fatigue had lower brain cortical and subcortical gray-matter volumes. However, after controlling for EDSS, only the caudate and the accumbens volumes remained statistically significant.

    Conclusions: Fatigued MS patients have a global cortical and subcortical gray-matter atrophy that seems largely related to higher physical disability. However, striatal structures involved in effort-reward functions exhibited smaller volumes in fatigued patients, independently of physical disability and depressive symptoms, supporting the theory of cortico-striatal network impairment in MS fatigue.
    Dave Bexfield