Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease that may cause physical disabling as well as cognitive dysfunction. The presented study investigated how the neuropsychological status depends on the thalamus and hippocampus’s metabolic processes, using γ-aminobutyric acid-edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy (GABA-edited H MRS) in patients with early MS, and how the results differ from healthy volunteers.
We recruited 36 relapsing-remitting (RRMS) MS patients and 22 controls (CON). In addition to common H MRS metabolites, such as N-acetyl-aspartate (tNAA), myoinositol (mIns), total choline and creatine (tCr, tCho), we also evaluated GABA and glutamate/glutamine (Glx). Metabolite ratios were correlated with the results of Single-Digit Modality Test (SDMT) and Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS).
In the thalamus, GABA ratios (GABA/tCr, GABA/tNAA) were significantly lower in RRMS patients than in CON. Both tCho- and mIns-ratios correlated with lower scores of SDMT but not with EDSS. Metabolic ratios in the hippocampus did not differ between RRMS and CON and did not correlate with any of performed tests.
This study is the first to provide GABA-edited H MRS evidence for MS-related metabolic changes of the thalamus and hippocampus. The findings underline the importance of evaluating subcortical grey matter in MS patients to improve understanding of the clinical manifestations of MS and as a potential future target for treatment.