Superficial white matter integrity in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis


  • D. Komnenić
  • O.R. Phillips
  • S.H. Joshi
  • C. Chien
  • T. Schmitz-Hübsch
  • S. Asseyer
  • F. Paul
  • C. Finke


  • Multiple Sclerosis Journal Experimental Translational and Clinical


  • Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 10 (1): 20552173231226107


  • BACKGROUND: Superficial white matter (SWM) is a particularly vulnerable area of white matter adjacent to cerebral cortex that was shown to be a sensitive marker of disease severity in several neurological and psychiatric disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), but has not been studied in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). OBJECTIVE: To compare the integrity of SWM between MS patients, NMOSD patients and healthy controls, and explore the correlation of SWM integrity with cognitive performance and overall disability. METHODS: Forty NMOSD patients, 48 MS patients and 52 healthy controls were included in the study. Mean diffusivity (MD) values obtained by diffusion tensor imaging were used as a measure of SWM integrity. Cognitive performance and overall disability were assessed with standardized tests. RESULTS: Superficial white matter MD was increased in MS patients compared to healthy controls. Higher MD was associated with poorer spatial memory (most prominently in right temporal and right limbic lobe) and poorer information processing speed in MS patients. After adjusting for age, no significant differences of SWM MD were observed between NMOSD patients and healthy controls. CONCLUSION: Integrity of SWM is compromised in MS, but not in NMOSD, and can serve as a sensitive marker of disease severity.