Multiple Sclerosis

Clinical Research
Brain Changes in Multiple Sclerosis and Depression

We are leading a multicenter clinical trial studying the use of a new automated imaging technique to identify shrinkage of a mood-regulating brain structure in multiple sclerosis patients with depression.

Using multimodal multiple imaging techniques, such as diffusion tensor and functional MRI advanced non-conventional MRI, our researchers seek to study disease progression and accurately monitor disease activity. We also use these technologies to measure efficacy of disease-modifying therapies. Our clinical studies primarily focus on the corpus callosum and hippocampus.

Changes in the Corpus Callosum

In one clinical study, we're studying imaging metrics of white matter degeneration in multiple sclerosis patients to model serial changes in the corpus callosum (CC), a critical white matter structure connecting the hemispheres of the brain, which is impacted in the disease's early stages. These changes in the CC are associated with motor impairment and cognitive changes. We correlate the structural and functional imaging measures with clinical performance on cognitive and motor impairment.

Cedars-Sinai researchers are also investigating the relationship between focal thinning (measured using previously collected longitudinal brain imaging data) and changes in diffusion tensor metrics (measured using an imaging technique sensitive to subtle changes in nerve fibers), as well as the clinical significance of these changes over time. We hope to develop and validate imaging metrics to localize and characterize changes in the CC to measure multiple sclerosis progression.

Loss of Tissue in the Hippocampus

While conventional MRI scans show regions of myelin damage in the brain's white matter, they reveal less information about nerve cells in the gray matter, such as the hippocampus. A large portion of our research focuses on understanding the loss of brain tissue within specific regions of the hippocampus. Previous research has shown smaller hippocampal volumes in multiple sclerosis patients and, in particular, the CA-1 region, which is known to be vulnerable to a variety of insults including high levels of stress hormones.