Cognitive impairment and the regional distribution of cerebellar lesions in multiple sclerosis

Sean M. Tobyne, Wilson B. Ochoa, J. Daniel Bireley, Victoria M. J. Smith, Jeroen J. G. Geurts, Jeremy D. Schmahmann, Eric C. Klawiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cerebellar lesions are often reported in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and have been associated with impaired motor function and cognitive status. However, prior research has primarily focused on summary measures of cerebellar involvement (e.g. total lesion load, gray/white matter volume) and not on the effect of lesion load within specific regions of cerebellar white matter. Objective: Spatially map the probability of cerebellar white matter lesion (CWML) occurrence in RRMS and explore the relationship between cognitive impairment and lesion (CWML) location within the cerebellum. Methods: High-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was acquired on 16 cognitively impaired (CI) and 15 cognitively preserved (CP) RRMS subjects at 3T and used for lesion identification and voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM). Results: CI RRMS demonstrated a predilection for the middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP). VLSM results indicate that lesions of the MCP are significantly associated with CI in RRMS. Measures of cerebellar lesion load were correlated with age at disease onset but not disease duration. Conclusion: A specific pattern of cerebellar lesions involving the MCP, rather than the total CWML load, contributes to cognitive dysfunction in RRMS. Cerebellar lesion profiles may provide a biomarker of current or evolving risk for cognitive status change in RRMS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1695
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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