Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis is not a simple process. It is often a question of ruling out other possibilities for the symptoms a patient is suffering and can be time-consuming. But researchers from The University of Western Ontario, Canada, may have found a way of speeding things up.
Iron deposits in the brain are a common feature of multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is not known if these are a cause or effect of the disease. Ravi Menon, PhD, from the Robarts Research Institute claims a new study brings us closer to finding the answer.
The research, published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, found iron deposits in deep gray matter in patients' brains, suggesting the accumulation begins at a very early stage in the disease.
As the National Multiple Sclerosis Society notes, the onset of MS can be a distressing time for patients. The range of symptoms are applicable to many diseases, which makes it a worrying time, and attacks may be separated by lengthy time intervals.
According to the Society, to reach a diagnosis of MS, doctors must:
This means that diagnosis is seldom possible after the first attack - these patients are referred to as having clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) - although the study notes that at least half of CIS patients will go on to develop MS.
Menon and his colleague, PhD candidate Matthew Quinn, used 3-Telsa Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to look for iron deposits in the brains of 22 CIS patients, using 16 age and gender matched people as controls.
"We wanted to know if the iron deposits happen early in the process, or whether it's something that accumulates with time as the disease progresses.
We also studied the veins that drain from the brain and looked for a correlation between the diameter of these veins and iron accumulation. One of the reasons to do this, of course, was the hypothesis proposed by Carlos Zamboni that if you had narrow jugular veins, this would give rise to additional iron and in turn cause MS."
The results show that iron deposits among the CIS group were significantly higher than those of the control group. They also showed subtle damage to the brain's white matter in the CIS group, even at this early stage.
And the researchers were able to rule out the connection between vein diameter and iron deposits.
"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. So the Zamboni hypothesis is incorrect as far as the iron being related to some kind of obstruction."
By continuing to study the CIS patients every 4 months for the next 2 years, the researchers hope that this imaging technique will lead to an earlier diagnosis for MS patients.
"We're looking at a couple of different approaches to diagnostics using this imaging research. In suspected MS cases - the very first time they appear in clinic, if they have an abnormally high amount of iron in the frontal cortex of the brain - that's probably a pretty good sign they have MS or some other white matter disease."
Written by Belinda Weber
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
New imaging research shows increased iron in the brain in earliest stages of MS, Ravi Menon, PhD, and Matthew Quinn, Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 28 October 2013.
Additional source: News release, The University of Western Ontario, accessed 29 October 2013.
Visit our Multiple Sclerosis category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Weber, Belinda. "Increased iron in brain 'may be marker for MS'." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 29 Oct. 2013. Web.
9 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268055>
Weber, B. (2013, October 29). "Increased iron in brain 'may be marker for MS'." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268055.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2013 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.