Gray matter structural correlates of fatigue in multiple sclerosis
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We aimed to assess whether frontal cortex-striatum-thalamus (FCST) pathway or other grey matter (GM) structures are associated with longitudinal patterns of fatigue, namely reversible (RF) versus sustained fatigue (SF). MS patients enrolled in our prospective cohort were grouped based on their longitudinal Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) scores: 1. SF: MFIS≥38 at the two most recent yearly assessments; 2. RF: MFIS<38 at last assessment, but presence of at least one previous MFIS≥38; 3. Never Fatigued (NF): at least five MFIS<38. Accordingly, we selected 98 patients (30 SF, 31 RF, 37 NF; age-range:29-66, female/male:76/22, Extended Disability Status Scale (EDSS)6; 13 patients with secondary progressive (SP) MS and 85 with relapsing remitting (RR) MS in remission). Disability and depression were assessed using the EDSS and CES-D, respectively. 3T T1-weighted MRI was used for voxel based morphometry (VBM) to survey for GM atrophy associated with fatigue, controlling for age, sex and EDSS. Group-wise volumetric comparison was performed on deep GM structures identified by VBM, controlling for age, sex, EDSS and CES-D score. VBM showed significant inverse relation between the MFIS cognitive subscale score and areas within the bilateral fronto-medial and fronto-orbital cortices, anterior striata, thalami, temporal poles, insulae and left lateral occipital cortex (peak FWE-p value of 0.021), and between the MFIS physical subscale and areas within the bilateral frontal poles, and frontal medial cortices (peak FWE-p value of 0.043). Volumetric analysis showed significant atrophy in the putamen (RF<NF p<0.0004; SF<NF p<0.0085) and thalamus (RF<NF p<0.00048).