Blacks Suffer More Severe MS Symptoms Than Whites

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that usually affects more Caucasians that African Americans. But recent studies suggest that for those blacks that are afflicted by MS tend to have a disease that progresses faster and does not respond that well to available therapies as compared to MS that affects whites.

Neurology researchers from the University of Buffalo studied around 567 MS patients. During the course of the study, the researchers found out through Magnetic Resonance Images of the brain showed that blacks with MS develop more damage to brain tissue and had less normal white and gray brain matter as compared to whites afflicted with the same disease.

According to Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, director at the Baird Multiple Sclerosis Center in Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Hospital and associate professor at the UB School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, "Black patients showed more brain tissue damage and accumulated brain lesions faster than whites, along with rapid clinical deterioration."

"The results provide further support that black patients experience a more severe disease, calling for individualized therapeutic interventions for this group of MS patients," adds Dr. Weinstock-Guttman.

The study comprised of 79 black patients with MS and 488 white patients. The MRI scans were done at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center. The participants were all older than 18 years old and were scanned within 90 days of their most recent visit at the clinic. The black participants were significantly younger but had MS that was more severe than the white participants even though they had the disease for a shorter amount of time.

"Results of the MRI scans showed that the aggressive disease process in blacks appears to be associated with increased macroscopic and microscopic tissue damage, as measured by specific MRI parameters," says Dr. Weinstock-Guttman.

"Based on our MRI findings, a plausible hypothesis that would explain the more aggressive disease in blacks compared to whites with MS may be that blacks have a reduced capacity for remyelination, the brain’s ability to repair the protective myelin sheath. However, to confirm this hypothesis, we will need to conduct more longitudinal studies," Dr. Weinstock-Guttman further adds.

Source: University at Buffalo. "Blacks With MS Have More Severe Symptoms, Decline Faster Than Whites, New Study Shows." ScienceDaily 6 February 2010. 9 February 2010

 
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