Higher BMI Predicts Women’s Multiple Sclerosis Disease Severity

The severity of multiple sclerosis may correlate to an individual patient's Body Mass Index (BMI), according to a new study presented at the 68th AAN Annual Meeting.

VANCOUVER, BC—The severity of multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms might correlate to female patients’ Body Mass Index (BMI), according to authors of a cross-sectional study presented at the 68th AAN Annual Meeting.

However, the correlation was “modest,” cautioned lead study author Benjamin Richter, clinical research coordinator at Barnabas Health in Livingston, NJ, and coauthors, in a poster presentation.

Obesity is “an inflammatory state marked by increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as leptin and interleukin 6, and it may be a risk factor for MS,” the researchers noted. To assess the possible association between MS disease severity and BMI, they conducted a cross-sectional study of neurologist-confirmed MS at two outpatient clinics, in Livingston, NJ and New York, NY. Only participants who were relapse-free for three months were enrolled in the study.

BMI and Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS) were recorded for a total of 1,024 patients, and Multiple Sclerosis Severity Scores (P-MSSS) were calculated using PDDS and disease duration data.

“BMI scores correlated significantly with P-MSSS [r2=0.0112; P=0.007] in the female population, but not among the male participants [r2=0.0014; P=0.59].” the researchers wrote. “In a multiple regression model, BMI was a significant predictor of P-MSSS (P<0.001), but accounted for only 2% of the variance.”