mss brainA study conducted by Western University (London, Canada) suggests that accumulation of iron deposits in deep grey matter of the brain may occur in the very early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS).

According to a news release from University of Western Ontario, study leader Ravi Menon, PhD, Robarts Research Institute, and PhD candidate Matthew Quinn used 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to scan 22 patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS).

The researchers note that the patients had sustained a single clinical attack, and at least half of these individuals would go on to be diagnosed with MS. The other patients may have had a different disease. The release also states that researchers studied sixteen age and sex matched controls.

The results indicated the presence of iron deposits in the CIS group that were well above the amounts exhibited in the control group. The researchers add that the MRIs also indicated subtle damage to the brain’s white matter. No correlation was found between the iron deposits and diameter of the veins, the researchers say.

“So while the iron in the brain correlates with the disability of the subjects, the iron in the brain does not correlate with the actual diameter of the jugular veins…” Menon states. As a result, according to Menon, “the Zamboni hypothesis is incorrect as far as the iron being related to some kind of obstruction.” Menon also notes that the researchers found narrowed veins in the control group as well as the CIS, and both groups had narrower veins on one side compared to the other.

In the release, Menon articulates his hope that the imaging research may pave the way for earlier diagnosis of MS. He will also follow the patients in his study every 4 months for the next 2 years to see retrospectively, what characterizes those patients that go on to be diagnosed with MS compared to those who do not.

Source: University of Western Ontario