OBJECTIVES:To test for structural and functional contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction to neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS). A visual pathway model void of MS lesions was chosen in order to exclude neurodegeneration secondary to lesion related axonotmesis.
METHODS:A single-centre cohort study (230 MS patients, 63 controls). Spectral domain optical coherence tomography of the retina, 3T magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, spectrophotometric assessment of serum lactate levels. Postmortem immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS:The visual pathway was void of MS lesions in 31 patients and 31 age-matched controls. Serum lactate was higher in MS compared to controls (P = 0.029). High serum lactate was structurally related to atrophy of the retinal nerve fiber layer at the optic disc (P = 0.041), macula (P = 0.025), and the macular ganglion cell complex (P = 0.041). High serum lactate was functionally related to poor color vision (P < 0.01), Expanded Disability Status Scale score (R = 0.37, P = 0.041), Guy's Neurological disability score (R = 0.38, P = 0.037), MS walking scale (R = 0.50, P = 0.009), upper limb motor function (R = 0.53, P = 0.002). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated increased astrocytic expression of a key lactate generating enzyme in MS lesions as well as profound vascular expression of monocarboxylate transporter-1, which is involved in lactate transport.
INTERPRETATION:This study provides structural, functional, and translational evidence for visual pathway neurodegeneration in MS related to mitochondrial dysfunction.
- mitochondrial dysfunction.
- multiple sclerosis
- visual degeneration