OBJECTIVE: Large epidemiological studies suggest higher risk of vascular events in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Chronic inflammatory response and oxidative stress, key-players in a process of atherogenesis, are also suspected to play a role in pathophysiology of MS. Prospective studies elucidating risk of atherosclerosis in MS patients are currently missing. The aim of the study was to assess endothelial function in patients with MS and in healthy controls.
METHODS: We enrolled 46 patients with diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS and age-matched population of 31 healthy subjects. Endothelial function was assessed using peripheral arterial tonometry and expressed as reperfusion hyperemia index (RHI).
RESULTS: RHI in MS population was significantly lower than in controls (1.77 vs 2.30; p=0.001), even though control population seemed to have higher burden of known vascular risk factors (significantly higher portion of male sex and significantly higher body mass index; p ≤ 0.001 for both parameters). The presence of MS was the only significant independent variable associated with the RHI (beta=0.396, p<0.001) in multiple linear regression model.
CONCLUSION: Results of our study suggest significant impairment of endothelial function in MS population compared to age matched control population with low burden of vascular risk factors.