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BACKGROUND: To date, no direct scientific evidence has been found linking tissue changes in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, such as demyelination, axonal destruction or gliosis, with either steady progression and/or stepwise accumulation of focal CNS lesions. Tissue changes such as reduction of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and the total macular volume (TMV), or brain- and spinal cord atrophy indicates an irreversible stage of tissue destruction. Whether these changes are found in all MS patients, and if there is a correlation with clinical disease state, remains controversial. The objective of our study was to determine, whether there was any correlation between the RNFL or TMV of patients with MS, and: (1) the lesion load along the visual pathways, (2) the ratios and absolute concentrations of metabolites in the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM), (3) standard brain atrophy indices, (4) disease activity or (5) disease duration. METHODS: 28 MS patients (RRMS, n = 23; secondary progressive MS (SPMS), n = 5) with moderately-high disease activity or long disease course were included in the study. We utilised: (1) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and (2) -spectroscopy (MRS), both operating at 3 Tesla, and (3) high-resolution spectral domain-OCT with locked reference images and eye tracking mode) to undertake the study. RESULTS: There was no consistency in the pattern of CNS metabolites, brain atrophy indices and the RNFL/TMV between individuals, which ranged from normal to markedly-reduced levels. Furthermore, there was no strict correlation between CNS metabolites, lesions along the visual pathways, atrophy indices, RNFL, TMV, disease duration or disability. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the findings of this study, we recommend that the concept of 'clinico-radiologico paradox' in multiple sclerosis be extended to CROP-'clinico-radiologico-ophthalmological paradox'. Furthermore, OCT data of MS patients should be interpreted with caution.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adolescent, Adult, Atrophy, Brain, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive, Retina, Tomography, Optical Coherence, Visual Pathways, Young Adult