Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Comorbidity, cognition and multiple sclerosis (C-COMS)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie

Affiliation: University of Manitoba

Term: April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2019

Funding: $266,083

Keywords: cognition, comorbidity, depression, anxiety, diabetes

Summary:

  • Co-existing health conditions that can affect thinking and memory, such as high blood pressure or mood problems, are common in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • It is unknown whether common co-existing conditions including depression, anxiety, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of cognitive problems in persons with MS.
  • The research team will:
    • Use brain imaging to see whether these conditions change the structure or function of the brain in persons with MS.
    • Recruit participants to study the effects of depression and anxiety on cognition in MS.

Project Description:

MS can significantly impact an individual’s attention, memory, ability to solve complex problems affecting daily functions. Treatments for cognitive problems are limited and a better understanding of the factors that affect thinking and memory in MS is needed. In this study, Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie’s research team is looking at whether conditions which commonly co-exist among people with MS such as depression, anxiety, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of cognitive problems. The team is also using brain MRI to see whether these conditions change the structure and/or function of the brain in persons with MS, which could potentially explain their cognitive impact. To date, 111 participants are enrolled in the study. Preliminary analyses suggest that people with MS who also have depression have slower processing speed than those without depression. Also, the team discovered that diabetes may be associated with reduced visual memory. Overall, this work will help understand whether treating co-existing conditions such as depression, anxiety, diabetes and high blood pressure in people with MS can help curb the cognitive dysfunction that they experience.

Potential Impact: This work is important in understanding whether treating co-existing depression, anxiety, diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent or treat cognitive problems in people with MS.

Project Status: In Progress