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Body Mass Index Linked with Brain Volume Change

Neurology; ePub 2018 Nov 14; Mowry, Azevedo, et al

Higher body mass index (BMI) appears to be associated with greater reductions in normalized gray matter volume (nGMV) and brain parenchymal volume (nBPV) in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is relevant because, in particular, nGMV loss portends greater longer-term disability. This according to a recent study that aimed to determine whether BMI or vitamin D status is associated with MRI measures of neurodegeneration in a cohort of individuals with remitting-relapsing MS (RRMS) or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). In a longitudinal MS cohort study at the University of California, San Francisco, participants had clinical evaluations, brain MRI, and blood draws annually. Patients with CIS or RRMS were evaluated at baseline. Researchers found:

  • Among 469 participants, each 1-kg/m2 higher BMI was independently associated with reduced nGMV in multivariate models (−1.1 mL).
  • BMI was likewise independently associated with nBPV (nBPV per 1-kg/m2 greater BMI: −1.1 mL).
  • Vitamin D levels did not appear to be meaningfully associated with brain volumes.


Mowry EM, Azevedo CJ, McCulloch CE, et al. Body mass index, but not vitamin D status, is associated with brain volume change in MS. [Published online ahead of print November 14, 2018]. Neurology. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000006644.

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