Diffusion tensor imaging of the corticospinal tract and walking performance in multiple sclerosis

Elizabeth A. Hubbard, Nathan C. Wetter, Bradley P. Sutton, Lara A. Pilutti, Robert W. Motl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Research has identified a significant relationship between DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) indices in the Corticospinal Tract (CST) and disability status in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). To date, there is little known about the association between DTI indices of the CST with walking and gait outcomes in MS. This study examined the associations among DTI indices [fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD)] of the CST with walking and gait outcomes in persons with MS. We enrolled 69 persons with MS who underwent 3 T brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and examined white matter structural integrity in the CST in the brain with DTI. Participants completed three walking performance assessments: 6-minute walk (6MW), timed 25-foot walk (T25FW), and gait testing. We examined associations using Spearman (r s ) and partial Spearman correlation (pr s ) analyses, using the entire sample and stratifying by disability status after controlling for age and sex. After controlling for age, sex, and disease duration, RD was significantly correlated (p < 0.05) with step time (pr s = 0.30). AD was significantly correlated (p < 0.05) with step length (pr s =-0.32). MD was significantly associated (p < 0.05) with 6MW (pr s =-0.35), T25FW (pr s =-0.34), gait velocity (pr s =-0.31), step time (pr s = 0.29), and step length (pr s =-0.36). FA was not significantly correlated with any of the walking parameters (p > 0.05). We provide novel evidence of possible motor pathway damage involved in walking performance in MS. There may be subtle differences in associations between MD, AD, and RD with walking outcomes, and these could be assessed in future longitudinal examinations and clinical trials of motor rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Volume363
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016

Keywords

  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Gait impairment
  • Mean diffusivity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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