Relationship between brain atrophy and disability: An 8-year follow-up study of multiple sclerosis patients

E. Fisher, R. A. Rudick, G. Cutter, M. Baier, D. Miller, B. Weinstock-Guttman, M. K. Mass, D. S. Dougherty, N. A. Simonian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Brain atrophy measurement can provide an estimate of the amount of tissue destruction due to the pathologic processes in multiple sclerosis. The potential usefulness of atrophy as a marker of disease progression depends upon the concurrent and predictive relationships between atrophy and disability. A follow-up study was performed to measure atrophy and disability scores in patients from the Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative Research Group's phase III trial of IFNβ-I a (Avonex) in relapsing - remitting multiple sclerosis. New data were obtained on 160 out of 172 eligible patients from the original trial were enrolled in the follow-up study approximately 8 years after randomization. The follow-up visit consisted of several tests and questionnaires including a clinical exam to determine Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) and Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC), and a magnetic resonance imaging exam to calculate the brain parenchymal fraction. Brain parenchymal fraction was correlated with both EDSS and MSFC at each of the four time points for which data were available (baseline 1, 2 and 8 years). Furthermore, the change in BPF was correlated with the changes in disability scores from the end of the phase III trial to the follow-up exam. These data suggest that brain atrophy may be a useful and clinically relevant marker of disease progression in relapsing - remitting MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-377
Number of pages5
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain atrophy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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