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May 2008 Off the Wire . . .




MRI differences in men and women

Article Provided by: WIVB TV News Channel 4
Buffalo, NY
May 7, 2008 10:51 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A new study done in Buffalo is revealing the differences in the way Multiple Sclerosis affects men and women.

The Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center is part of the Jacobs Neurological Institute. Located at Buffalo General Hospital, the center has become an international leader in computerized analysis of brain scans.

Most recently, in a study of more than eight hundred MS patients, they've discovered a difference in the way the disease affects the brains of men and women.

Doctor Robert Zivadinov (Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center) said, "We found more gray matter atrophy, and especially cortical and deep brain matter atrophy in men versus women, and that was highly significant."

Gray matter and white matter are the two major components of the brain, and the center's computers can now recognize and measure them.

In this scan, from a man with MS, you can see that the outer folds of brain tissue, called cortex, are separated from each other by dark spaces, because the cortex has shrunk, that's atrophy. (shown on WIVB-TV)

In a woman's brain, the spaces are not nearly so wide.

Men with MS become more severely afflicted, perhaps because of a shortage of testosterone.

A recently published study showed that replacement of testosterone in males was protective for brain atrophy in patients who have MS.

Women with MS tend to have more loss of white matter, shown by the enlargement of a central fark area, and that may be related to hormones also, because women with MS don't have acute attacks while they are pregnant.

Gender differences may also explain why certain MS drugs work better in women and others in men.

"I think that we are going to hear more and more about sex influence in MS. Its a totally new, very important chapter."
we've long known that ms affects the brain in different ways, and affects different parts of the brain in different people at different times.

Now, thanks to the computing power and the large number of cases at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, we've learned how it affects women and men differently, and that's useful information.

For instance, Dr. Zivadinov suggests that we might be able to discover whether a sex hormone deficiency plays a role in a particular patient's illness, and do something about it.

Q. Those images are fascinating. What else are they studying?

A. There are lots of things we used to be able to just look at, that now we can measure. And those tiny differences tend to matter! They're studying Parkinson's 

Disease, stroke, and they've just begun a large study of Alzheimer's Disease.

Story by Doctor Peter Ostrow, WIVB

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