Smoking Cessation Decelerates Brain Volume Loss in Multiple Sclerosis

Smoking has been linked to advanced brain atrophy in individuals with multiple sclerosis.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Smoking cessation may help to decelerate brain volume loss in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to data presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

Previous studies have indicated that smoking increases the rate of brain atrophy in MS.

In order to evaluate the effects of smoking cessation, Navid Seraji-Bozorgzad, MD, of Wayne State University, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of medical records of patients with who had a history of smoking. Available clinical data included 3T brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and self-reported smoking status.

In all, 254 patients with MS (mean age 32.8 years; T2 lesion load= 8.2 mL; CEL= 0.7; baseline brain volume= 1521 mL) were included in the study, all of whom had smoked for longer than 5 years. Of the participants, 148 continued to smoke while 106 stopped smoking.

Percentage brain volume change (PBVC) measured by SIENA was divided into 2 phases: phase 2 ranged from baseline to year 4 scan, during which time both groups continued to smoke, and phase 2 ranged from year 4 to year 6, during which time 1 group stopped smoking and the other continued. Annual PBVC in the group who continued smoking was -0.54 in phase 1 and -0.51 in phase 2 (P=.036), while annual PBVC in the group who stopped smoking was -0.55 in phase 1 and -0.38 in phase 1 (P<.0001). Compared to those who continued smoking, those who stopped experienced a significant decline in the rate of brain volume loss (PBVC: -0.38 vs -0.51, P<.0001).

The results indicate that smoking cessation helps to decelerate brain volume loss, leading the authors to recommend that cessation be counseled to patients with MS who continue to smoke.

Click here for more coverage from the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 15-21, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Seraji-Bozorgzad N, Bao F, Razmjou S, et al. Smoking cessation decelerates brain volume loss in patients with multiple sclerosis. Presented at: The 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology; April 15-21, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia. Abstract S37.003.