Methylprednisolone effect on brain volume and enhancing lesions in MS before and during IFNβ-1b

A. B. Rao, N. Richert, T. Howard, B. K. Lewis, C. N. Bash, H. F. McFarland, J. A. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To determine the effect of IV methylprednisolone (IVMP) on brain fraction volume (BFV), contrastenhancing (CE) lesions, and white matter lesion load (WMLL) in patients with relapsing-remitting MS treated for acute exacerbations. Background: MRI metrics of MS disease activity are being used as outcome measures in early phase treatment trials, however the short-term effects of IVMP treatment on cerebral atrophy are unknown. Methods: Serial monthly MRI were performed in 26 patients enrolled in a baseline vs treatment trial with interferon β-1b (IFNβ-1b) who were followed for 3 months before and after IVMP. All 26 patients were evaluated while receiving IFNβ-1b, and 12 patients were also studied during the baseline stage of the trial (NHx). Acute exacerbations were treated with IVMP (1 g/d) for 3 to 5 days. Precontrast and postcontrast T1-weighted and proton density T2-weighted fast spin-echo images were analyzed. Results: Fifty-six acute exacerbations were evaluated. For the 3 months before IVMP, there was no difference in WMLL or BFV compared to month IVMP was administered. There was a significant decrease in BFV at month 1 after IVMP in the IFNβ-1b and NHx groups. Compared to the month IVMP was administered, there was a difference in the CE lesions for months -3 and -1 prior (p <0.039) in NHx patients. Following IVMP, CE lesions decreased (p <0.0004) for months 1, 2, and 3 in both groups, but there was no effect on WMLL. Conclusions: BFV and CE lesions were significantly decreased for 1 month (BFV) and 3 months (CE lesions) following IVMP. Therefore, MRI studies should be delayed by probably at least 2 months following IVMP to avoid a possible confounding steroid effect in a clinical trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-694
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 10 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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    Rao, A. B., Richert, N., Howard, T., Lewis, B. K., Bash, C. N., McFarland, H. F., & Frank, J. A. (2002). Methylprednisolone effect on brain volume and enhancing lesions in MS before and during IFNβ-1b. Neurology, 59(5), 688-694.