Frequency of Asymptomatic Optic Nerve Enhancement in a Large Retrospective Cohort of Patients with Aquaporin-4+ NMOSD

Shailee S. Shah, Pearse Morris, Marina Buciuc, Deena Tajfirouz, Dean M. Wingerchuk, Brian G. Weinshenker, Eric R. Eggenberger, Marie Di Nome, Sean J. Pittock, Eoin P. Flanagan, M. Tariq Bhatti, John J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and ObjectivesAsymptomatic or persistent optic nerve enhancement in aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-immunoglobulin G (IgG)-positive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is thought to be rare. Improved understanding may have important implications for assessment of treatment efficacy in clinical trials and in clinical practice. Our objective was to characterize NMOSD interattack optic nerve enhancement.MethodsThis was a retrospective cohort study performed between 2000 and 2019 (median follow-up 5.5 [range 1-35] years) of patients with AQP4-IgG-positive optic neuritis (ON) evaluated at Mayo Clinic. MRI orbits were reviewed by a neuroradiologist, neuro-ophthalmologist, and neuroimmunologist blinded to the clinical history. Interattack optic nerve enhancement (>30 days after attack) was measured. The correlation between interattack enhancement and Snellen visual acuity (VA), converted to logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR), at attack and at follow-up were assessed.ResultsA total of 198 MRI scans in 100 patients with AQP4-IgG+ NMOSD were identified, with 107 interattack MRIs from 78 unique patients reviewed. Seven scans were performed before any ON (median 61 days before attack [range 21-271 days]) and 100 after ON (median 400 days after attack [33-4,623 days]). Optic nerve enhancement was present on 18/107 (16.8%) interattack scans (median 192.5 days from attack [33-2,943]) of patients with preceding ON. On 15 scans, enhancement occurred at the site of prior attacks; the lesion location was unchanged, but the lesion length was shorter. Two scans (1.8%) demonstrated new asymptomatic lesions (prior scan demonstrated no enhancement). In a third patient with subjective blurry vision, MRI showed enhancement preceding detectable eye abnormalities on examination noted 15 days later. There was no difference in VA at preceding attack nadir (logMAR VA 1.7 vs 2.1; p = 0.79) or long-term VA (logMAR VA 0.4 vs 0.2, p = 0.56) between those with and without interattack optic nerve enhancement.DiscussionAsymptomatic optic nerve enhancement occurred in 17% of patients with NMOSD predominantly at the site of prior ON attacks and may represent intermittent blood-brain barrier breakdown or subclinical ON. New asymptomatic enhancement was seen only in 2% of patients. Therapeutic clinical trials for NMOSD require blinded relapse adjudication when assessing treatment efficacy, and it is important to recognize that asymptomatic optic nerve enhancement can occur in patients with ON.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E851-E857
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequency of Asymptomatic Optic Nerve Enhancement in a Large Retrospective Cohort of Patients with Aquaporin-4+ NMOSD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this