Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Brain Drain
09 February 2012

Brain Drain

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes progressive damage to the nerves of the brain and central nervous system. It may also decrease the number of veins serving sufferers’ brains. Comparing brain images from a healthy person (top row) with those from two patients suffering from different stages of MS (lower rows), the differences in brain vein number and density are clear. The number of veins serving the brain (two columns marked in blue) is reduced in the two MS patients. And the presence of more brown-yellow spots in the patient brains in the far-left column represents areas where there are fewer veins. Analysing images from many individuals showed that a reduction in brain veins was more likely with MS. Compromised blood flow in the brain can lead to reduced metabolism in MS patients, putting them at risk of stroke.

Written by Andrew Purcell

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