Association of retinal vessel pathology and brain atrophy in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis

Eva Feodora Romahn, Tun Wiltgen, Matthias Bussas, Lilian Aly, Rebecca Wicklein, Christina Noll, Achim Berthele, Vera Dehmelt, Christian Mardin, Claus Zimmer, Thomas Korn, Bernhard Hemmer, Jan S. Kirschke, Mark Mühlau, Benjamin Knier

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung

2 Zitate (Scopus)


Background: Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) allows non-invasive assessment of retinal vessel structures. Thinning and loss of retinal vessels is evident in eyes of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and might be associated with a proinflammatory disease phenotype and worse prognosis. We investigated whether changes of the retinal vasculature are linked to brain atrophy and disability in MS. Material and methods: This study includes one longitudinal observational cohort (n=79) of patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Patients underwent annual assessment of the expanded disability status scale (EDSS), timed 25-foot walk, symbol digit modalities test (SDMT), retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT), OCTA, and brain MRI during a follow-up duration of at least 20 months. We investigated intra-individual associations between changes in the retinal architecture, vasculature, brain atrophy and disability. Eyes with a history of optic neuritis (ON) were excluded. Results: We included 79 patients with a median disease duration of 12 (interquartile range 2 - 49) months and a median EDSS of 1.0 (0 - 2.0). Longitudinal retinal axonal and ganglion cell loss were linked to grey matter atrophy, cortical atrophy, and volume loss of the putamen. We observed an association between vessel loss of the superficial vascular complex (SVC) and both grey and white matter atrophy. Both observations were independent of retinal ganglion cell loss. Moreover, patients with worsening of the EDSS and SDMT revealed a pronounced longitudinal rarefication of the SVC and the deep vascular complex. Discussion: ON-independent narrowing of the retinal vasculature might be linked to brain atrophy and disability in MS. Our findings suggest that retinal OCTA might be a new tool for monitoring neurodegeneration during MS.

FachzeitschriftFrontiers in Immunology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2023
Extern publiziertJa


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