Few studies have evaluated the association between comorbidities associated with increased vascular risk and brain volume changes in multiple sclerosis (MS). To date, findings have not been consistent with respect to which comorbidities are associated with lower brain volumes or whether comorbidities associated with increased vascular risk are associated with greater brain volume loss over time.
We aimed to evaluate the association between the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) which evaluates vascular risk and normalized whole brain volume in MS.
We included 98 participants with MS who underwent two brain MRIs two years apart, from which whole brain volumes were calculated. Each participant reported their comorbidities and medications taken. Blood pressure, height and weight were recorded and we calculated the FRS. We tested the association between the FRS at baseline and brain volume at the second time point using quantile regression adjusting for baseline normalized brain volume, age, gender and use of disease-modifying therapy.
As the FRS increased, brain volume was lower, both at enrollment (β= -0.24; 95%CI: -0.42, -0.04) and at follow-up (-0.27; 95%CI: -0.45, -0.08). After further adjustment for age, gender, and use of disease modifying therapy, higher FRS remained associated with lower brain volume at follow-up at the 90th percentile of brain volume (β= -2.22; 95%CI: -3.40, -1.04) but not at the 10th or 50th percentiles.
Higher FRS were associated with lower brain volumes in persons with MS at baseline, and with brain volume loss over time. This effect was most pronounced for persons with higher brain volumes at baseline, which suggests that prevention, detection and effective management of comorbidities associated with vascular risk in people with MS is particularly important early in the disease course.

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.