The following is a summary of “Sex-related differences in upper limb motor function in healthy subjects and multiple sclerosis patients: a multiparametric MRI study,” published in the August 2023 issue of Neurology by Bonacchi et al.
Researchers performed a retrospective study on upper limb motor performance, evaluated using the 9-Hole Peg Test (9HPT), in healthy controls (HC) and multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, along with their respective MRI substrates.
They included 94 HC and 133 patients with MS. These participants underwent a neurological assessment, the 9HPT, and a 3T brain MRI, which included sequences for analyzing regional gray matter volume (GMV), white matter (WM) fractional anisotropy (FA), and resting-state (RS) functional connectivity (FC). General linear models were employed to examine connections between MRI parameters and 9HPT results.
The results showed that 9HPT performance was better in HC than in MS patients and female HC than in males. In HC, better 9HPT performance was linked to higher GMV in motor and cognitive areas, stronger in females. In MS, worse 9HPT performance was tied to lower volume in these areas. Sex-related differences were minimal and mostly found in cerebellar regions. White matter FA analysis showed no links to 9HPT performance in HC and no gender differences in MS. Female HC shows stronger sensorimotor RS FC links to 9HPT performance than males. No gender differences in MS. No gender differences in the cerebellar network in HC. In male MS patients, stronger negative correlation in the left cerebellum than in females.
They concluded sex influences 9HPT performance in HC through volume and RS FC, but the effects become secondary in MS.