Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Separating antibody-negative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) from multiple sclerosis (MS) in borderline cases is extremely challenging due to lack of biomarkers. Elucidating different pathologies within the likely heterogenous antibody-negative NMOSD/MS overlap syndrome is, therefore, a major unmet need which would help avoid disability from inappropriate treatment. OBJECTIVE: In this study we aimed to identify distinct subgroups within the antibody-negative NMOSD/MS overlap syndrome. METHODS: Twenty-five relapsing antibody-negative patients with NMOSD features underwent a prospective brain and spinal cord MRI. Subgroups were identified by an unsupervised algorithm based on pre-selected NMOSD/MS discriminators. RESULTS: Four subgroups were identified. Patients from Group 1 termed "MS-like" (n = 6) often had central vein sign and cortical lesions (83% and 67%, respectively). All patients from Group 2 ("spinal MS-like", 8) had short-segment myelitis and no MS-like brain lesions. Group 3 ("classic NMO-like", 6) had high percentage of bilateral optic neuritis and longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM, 80% and 60%, respectively) and normal brain appearance (100%). Group 4 ("NMO-like with brain involvement", 5) typically had a history of NMOSD-like brain lesions and LETM. When compared with other groups, Group 4 had significantly decreased fractional anisotropy in non-lesioned tracts (0.46 vs. 0.49, p = 0.003) and decreased thalamus volume (0.84 vs. 0.98, p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: NMOSD/MS cohort contains distinct subgroups likely corresponding to different pathologies and requiring tailored treatment. We propose that non-conventional MRI might help optimise diagnosis in these challenging patients.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s00415-021-10619-1

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurol

Publication Date

27/05/2021

Keywords

Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Myelitis, Neuromyelitis optica, Optic neuritis, Prospective studies