Classification of multiple sclerosis patients by latent class analysis of magnetic resonance imaging characteristics

J. N.P. Zwemmer, J. Berkhof, J. A. Castelijns, F. Barkhof, C. H. Polman, B. M.J. Uitdehaag

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Disease heterogeneity is a major issue in multiple sclerosis (MS). Classification of MS patients is usually based on clinical characteristics. More recently, a pathological classification has been presented. While clinical subtypes differ by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signature on a group level, a classification of individual MS patients based purely on MRI characteristics has not been presented so far. Objectives: To investigate whether a restricted classification of MS patients can be made based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative MRI characteristics and to test whether the resulting subgroups are associated with clinical and laboratory characteristics. Methods: MRI examinations of the brain and spinal cord of 50 patients were scored for 21 quantitative and qualitative characteristics. Using latent class analysis, subgroups were identified, for whom disease characteristics and laboratory measures were compared. Results: Latent class analysis revealed two subgroups that mainly differed in the extent of lesion confluency and MRI correlates of neuronal loss in the brain. Demographics and disease characteristics were comparable except for cognitive deficits. No correlations with laboratory measures were found. Conclusions: Latent class analysis offers a feasible approach for classifying subgroups of MS patients based on the presence of MRI characteristics. The reproducibility, longitudinal evolution and further clinical or prognostic relevance of the observed classification will have to be explored in a larger and independent sample of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-572
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • Heterogeneity
  • Latent class analysis
  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis

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