The effect of interferon beta-1b on quantities derived from MT MRI in secondary progressive MS

M Inglese, J H T M van Waesberghe, M Rovaris, K Beckmann, F Barkhof, D Hahn, L Kappos, D H Miller, C Polman, C Pozzilli, A J Thompson, T A Yousry, K Wagner, G Comi, M Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Magnetization transfer (MT) MRI can provide in vivo markers reflecting the severity of irreversible, MS-related brain damage occurring within and outside T2-visible lesions.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of interferon (IFN) beta-1b treatment on the accumulation of brain damage in patients with secondary progressive (SP) MS, measured using MT MRI.

METHODS: Eighty-two patients with SPMS from five centers participating in a European, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of IFNbeta-1b in SPMS underwent brain T2-weighted and MT MRI at baseline. Evaluable follow-up data were available for 75 patients at 12 months, 54 at 24 months, and 47 at 36 months. MT MRI scans were postprocessed and analyzed to obtain histograms of MT ratio (MTR) values from the whole brain. A region of interest-based analysis of MTR values from the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) was also performed.

RESULTS: In both the treatment arms, there was a decrease of average brain MTR values from baseline to month 24 (mean change -4.9%) and month 36 (mean change -4.3%). These changes were significant for the placebo group at both timepoints and for the IFNbeta-1b group at month 24 only, with no significant treatment effect. A decrease of NAWM MTR was also observed, with no significant difference between the two treatment arms.

CONCLUSION: In this cohort of patients with secondary progressive MS, interferon beta-1b did not show an overall effect on the worsening of magnetization transfer MRI measures, when compared with placebo. The data show that change in magnetization transfer ratio is a promising tool for monitoring disease evolution in secondary progressive MS and that the information obtained from magnetization transfer MRI complements that obtained from MRI measures of lesion load and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-60
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2003


  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases/complications
  • Disease Progression
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Interferon beta-1b
  • Interferon-beta/therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive/complications
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Treatment Outcome

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