The gradual accrual of disability over time in progressive multiple sclerosis is believed to be driven by widespread degeneration. Yet another facet of the problem may reside in the loss of the brain's ability to adapt to the damage incurred as the disease progresses. In this study, we attempted to examine whether changes associated with optic neuritis in the structural and functional visual networks can still be discerned in progressive patients even years after the acute insult. Forty-eight progressive multiple sclerosis patients, 21 with and 27 without prior optic neuritis, underwent structural and functional MRI, including DTI and resting state fMRI. Anatomical and functional visual networks were analyzed using graph theory-based methods. While no functional metrics were significantly different between the two groups, anatomical global efficiency and density were significantly lower in the optic neuritis group, despite no significant difference in lesion load between the groups. We conclude that long-standing distal damage to the optic nerve causes trans-synaptic effects and the early ability of the cortex to adapt may be altered, or possibly nullified. We suggest that this limited ability of the brain to compensate should be considered when attempting to explain the accumulation of disability in progressive multiple sclerosis patients.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Applebaum Foundation; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant/Award Number: DFG Exc 257; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Grant/Award Number: RG‐1802‐30165 Funding information
Applebaum Foundation; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant/Award Number: DFG Exc 257; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Grant/Award Number: RG-1802-30165
© 2021 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
- multiple sclerosis
- optic neuritis
- visual cortex
- Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive/pathology
- Brain/diagnostic imaging
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Multiple Sclerosis/pathology
- Optic Neuritis/complications