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Blacks with MS Exhibit More Rapid Neurodegeneration

Brain; ePub 2018 Oct 11; Gonzalez Caldito, et al

African Americans with multiple sclerosis (MS) exhibited more rapid neurodegeneration on average than Caucasian Americans and had significantly faster brain and retinal tissue loss, according to a recent study. 22 African Americans and 60 matched Caucasian Americans with MS were evaluated with brain MRI, and 116 African Americans and 116 matched Caucasian Americans with MS were monitored with optical coherence tomography over a mean duration of 4.5 years. Mixed-effects linear regression models were used in statistical analyses. Researchers found:

  • Grey matter (−0.9%/year vs −0.5%), white matter (−0.7%/year vs −0.3%), and nuclear thalamic (−1.5%/year vs −0.7%/year) atrophy rates were approximately twice as fast in African Americans.
  • African Americans also exhibited higher proportions of microcystoid macular pathology (12.1% vs 0.9%).
  • Retinal nerve fiber layer (−1.1% vs −0.8%) and ganglion cell+ inner plexiform layer (−0.7%/year vs −0.4%/year) atrophy rates were faster in African vs Caucasian Americans.


Gonzalez Caldito N, Saidha S, Sotirchos ES, et al. Brain and retinal atrophy in African-Americans versus Caucasian-Americans with multiple sclerosis: A longitudinal study. [Published online ahead of print October 11, 2018]. Brain. doi:10.1093/brain/awy245.