Less Stress Prevents Brain Lesions in Multiple Sclerosis

Fewer new gadolinium-enhancing, T2 MS brain lesions on MRI with 24 weeks of stress therapy

THURSDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- A 24-week stress management therapy (SMT) program reduces the number of new gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) brain lesions in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), but effects are not sustained after 24 weeks, according to research published online July 11 in Neurology.

David C. Mohr, Ph.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of 121 patients with relapsing MS who received either stress management therapy for MS (SMT-MS), consisting of 16 treatment sessions over a 24-week period and 24 weeks of follow-up, or a wait-list control condition.

The researchers found that significantly fewer Gd+ MS lesions were observable on magnetic resonance imaging in MS patients treated with SMT-MS, compared with control MS patients. Furthermore, 76.8 percent of SMT-MS patients remained free of Gd+ lesions during treatment, compared with 54.7 percent of control patients. Additionally, SMT-MS treatment resulted in significantly fewer new T2 lesions and a higher number of patients remaining free of new T2 lesions. This trial was not statistically powered to measure clinical outcomes, however, and these effects were not sustained during follow-up.

"This RCT found significantly fewer new Gd+ brain lesions and new or enlarging T2 lesions among participants treated with SMT-MS, compared to the control group, indicating that SMT-MS can reduce not only the extent of blood-barrier opening, but also the accumulation of fixed lesions," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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