Neurometabolites measured by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) can be used to examine the relationship between metabolic markers of brain injury and clinical disability in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). Current work has shown an association between normal appearing white matter (NAWM) total N-acetyl aspartate plus N-acetyl aspartyl glutamate (tNAA) and both arm function and measures of processing speed.
To determine if baseline tNAA and tNAA/tCr in NAWM are associated with upper limb function (9-hole peg test) and information processing speed (Paced auditory serial addition test) after 96 weeks of follow-up.
108 participants from the recently reported MS-SMART trial were included.1 All participants had chemical shift imaging in a single slice in the brain (2D-PRESS, TE/TR = 35/2000ms) at 3T and metabolite levels were determined for grey matter and NAWM. Absolute concentrations and ratios to total creatine (tCr) were calculated with LCModel, using an unsuppressed water scan as the internal reference. Along with MRSI, baseline T2 lesion volume (T2LV) and normalised brain volume (NBV) were calculated. Clinical measures were acquired as per MS-SMART protocol at baseline and 96 weeks.2 To determine the association between baseline neurometabolites and 9-hole peg test (9HPT) and Paced auditory serial addition test (PASAT) scores at 96 weeks, multiple regression analysis was used with trial arm, age, sex, disease duration, relapses preceding study entry, T2LV and NBV at baseline as the covariates.
At baseline, mean age of the cohort was 55 years (sd 7.1) and 67% female, mean disease duration was 22 years (sd 9.6), median EDSS 6.0 (IQR 1.0), mean PASAT score 42.8, 95% CI [40.4-45.2], mean 9HPT (sec-1) 0.036, 95% CI [0.034-0.037] and median T2LV 9.0mL (IQR 13.6). At 96 weeks, mean 9HPT (sec-1) was 0.034, 95% CI [0.032-0.036] and mean PASAT3 score was 43.6, 95% CI [40.8-46.3]. Baseline tNAA (β = 0.22, 95% CI [0.02-0.41], p = 0.03) and tNAA/tCr (β = 0.23, 95% CI [0.5-0.42], p = 0.02) in NAWM were associated with 9HPT at 96 weeks. Baseline NAWM tNAA and tNAA/tCr were not significantly associated with 96-week PASAT scores.
Baseline neuroaxonal integrity in NAWM as measured by tNAA and tNAA/tCr are associated with upper limb function at 96-weeks. Baseline neuroaxonal integrity in NAWM was not associated with a measure of processing speed at 96 weeks.
1. Chataway J et al. Efficacy of three neuroprotective drugs in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS-SMART): a phase 2b, multiarm, double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol 2020
2. Connick P et al. Multiple Sclerosis-Secondary Progressive Multi-Arm Randomisation Trial (MS-SMART): a multiarm phase IIb randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial comparing the efficacy of three neuroprotective drugs in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. BMJ Open 2018