Is Multiple Sclerosis a Risk Factor for Atherosclerosis?


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. We aimed to discuss possible predisposing factors to atherosclerosis such as carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP) levels in MS.


Thirty-five ambulatory patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) (22 females and 13 males) and 34 healthy controls (21 females and 13 males) with similar demographic variables were included. Blood cell counts, cholesterol levels, vitamin D and B12, Hs-CRP levels, body mass index (BMI), history of smoking, and CIMT of both groups, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, and disease duration of patients were recorded. Patients with a history of other vascular diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, peripheral artery disease, and acute relapses were excluded.


Sixty-nine participants were included. The mean age of the study population was 35.8±7.1 years. Right CIMT was significantly greater in the patient population (p<0.001). Spearman’s correlation coefficient between age and right CIMT was r=0.41, p=0.01. When we compared the Hs-CRP with a cut-off value of ≤3, the right, left, and mean CIMT levels were not statistically significant (p=0.17; p=0.22; p=0.15). The mean serum vitamin D levels were higher in the patient group and this was statistically significant (p<0.001). The statistically significant factors identified with univariate analysis with p<0.2 were further entered into multivariate modelling.


CIMT seems to be affected in patients with MS by means of the disease itself and age. Thus, CIMT might reflect the predisposition to subclinical atherosclerosis more than Hs-CRP. Further investigation in a large MS population is still needed.