Change Of Seasons Affect MS Activity

A new study shows that multiple sclerosis activity may also increase during the spring and summer months. Brain lesions in people with MS seem to increase during the months of March to August, with the lesions not attributable to any medication used to treat MS. The said research can be found in the August 13,2010 published issue of Neurology.

According to research conducted by Dominic Meier, PhD., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and member of the American Academy of Neurology, “Our results showed that the appearance of lesions on brain scans was two to three times higher in the months of March to August, compared to other months of the year.”

The study involved researchers trying to compare the MRI brain scans of 44 people with MS from 1991 to 1993 to the weather data recorded during the same time period. The participants were in the age range of 25 and 52 years old that have untreated MS. Each of the participants had the initial 8 weekly scans and then 8 scans every other week. This was followed by 6 monthly check-ups. On average, each participant had 22 scans during the study period. Weather information for the same period in the Boston area was also taken which included daily temperature, solar radiation as well as precipitation measurements.

The results showed that 310 new lesions were found in 31 people after one year. Thirteen people developed no new lesions during the study. According to Meier, who was the study author, “Not only were more lesions found during the spring and summer seasons, our study also found that warmer temperatures and solar radiation were linked to disease activity.” The study showed no link between the increase in lesions with the prevailing precipitation during the study period.

One relevant factor of the said study is that it analyzed data from the early 1990’s, a time when medications for relapsing MS have not yet been approved. This showed that no medicines likely could have affected the results. Currently, clinical trials use MRI’s to evaluate the effectiveness of certain drugs which can last from 6 to 12 months. If the said trial is conducted from spring to winter, researchers may determine that the lesions may have decreased due to the drug when in fact the reason may have just been a change of season.

Source: American Academy of Neurology. “Multiple Sclerosis Activity Changes With the Seasons, Research Finds.” ScienceDaily 30 August 2010. 31 August 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2010/08/100830192931.htm>

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