(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 >24 weeks.

David C Mohr, PhD, 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% of SMT-MS patients remained free of Gd+ lesions during treatment, compared with 54.7% 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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