Combining structural brain imaging with molecular and clinical biomarkers allows for a detailed assessment of a patient’s clinical state, regardless of age and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progression, a new study suggests.

The study, “Combinatory Biomarker Use of Cortical Thickness, MUNIX, and ALSFRS-R at Baseline and in Longitudinal Courses of Individual Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” was published in Frontiers in Neurology.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the functionality of upper and lower motor neurons — nerve cells responsible for voluntary muscle control.

ALS varies widely among patients, especially the severity of symptoms in the upper and lower motor neurons, the site of disease onset, progression rate and presence of cognitive and behavioral deficits.

Previous studies focused on developing and characterizing clinical and biological biomarkers that show the multifaceted nature of ALS, especially disease severity and progression.

In this study, researchers analyzed thinning of the cortex with structural MRI, along with clinical ALSFRS-R and neurophysiological MUNIX biomarkers on a group of ALS patients.

The findings indicate that MRI is a solid biomarker to assess cortical thinning, and in combination with other clinical and neurophysiological biomarkers provides a strong basis to evaluate the severity and progression of ALS.

Combinatory biomarker use contributes a substantial gain of information about individual state of disease beyond group averages. Future studies may expand the idea of combining neuroimaging techniques with other clinical or molecular biomarkers to deepen our understanding of multisystem/multifactorial ALS disease progression
the authors wrote.


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