Cortical lesions (CLs) have a low prevalence and are associated with physical disabilities in Japanese patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the contribution of CLs to cognitive impairment remains unclear in Asian MS. Sixty-one prospectively enrolled MS patients underwent three-dimensional double inversion recovery MR imaging, the Brief Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Tests (BRB-N), the Apathy Scale (AS), the Fatigue Questionnaire (FQ), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) within a 1-week period. The cognitive impairment index (CII) score was calculated to measure patients’ overall cognitive impairment. MS patients with CLs had poorer scores than those without CLs in most BRB-N tests, but scored comparably in the FQ, AS, and HADS. The number of CLs correlated negatively with all BRB-N test scores and positively with total CII scores. Leukocortical lesions were more extensively associated with cognitive dysfunction in various domains than intracortical lesions. Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that potential confounding factors for the highest quartile of CII score were the number of CLs (odds ratio 2.38, p = 0.0070) and the Expanded Disability Severity Scale score (odds ratio 2.13, p = 0.0003). Our results demonstrate that the presence and number of CLs are robustly associated with cognitive dysfunction in Asian MS patients.
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