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Sex hormones modulate brain damage in multiple sclerosis: MRI evidence
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  1. V Tomassini1,
  2. E Onesti1,
  3. C Mainero1,
  4. E Giugni1,
  5. A Paolillo1,
  6. M Salvetti1,
  7. F Nicoletti2,
  8. C Pozzilli1
  1. 1Department of Neurological Sciences, “La Sapienza” University, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Department of Pharmacology, “La Sapienza” University, Rome, and INM Neuromed, Pozzilli, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Carlo Pozzilli
 Department of Neurological Sciences, II Faculty of Medicine, University “La Sapienza”, viale dell’Università 30, 00185 Rome, Italy; carlo.pozzilliuniroma1.it

Abstract

Background: Sex related differences in the course and severity of multiple sclerosis (MS) could be mediated by the sex hormones.

Objective: To investigate the relation between serum sex hormone concentrations and characteristics of tissue damage on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in men and women suffering from relapsing-remitting MS.

Results: Serum testosterone was significantly lower in women with MS than in controls. The lowest levels were found in women with a greater number of gadolinium enhancing lesions. A positive correlation was observed between testosterone concentrations and both tissue damage on MRI and clinical disability. In men, there was a positive correlation between oestradiol concentrations and brain damage.

Conclusions: The hormone related modulation of pathological changes supports the hypothesis that sex hormones play a role in the inflammation, damage, and repair mechanisms typical of MS.

  • DHEAs, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
  • EDSS, expanded disability status scale
  • FSH, follicle stimulating hormone
  • Gd, gadolinium
  • LH, luteinising hormone
  • RRMS, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis
  • sex hormones
  • brain damage
  • MRI
  • multiple sclerosis

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: none declared

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