Tremor in multiple sclerosis is associated with cerebello-thalamic pathology

Frederique Boonstra, Grace Florescu, Andrew Evans, Chris Steward, Peter Mitchell, Patricia Desmond, Brad Moffat, Helmut Butzkueven, Scott Kolbe, Anneke van der Walt

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Tremor in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a frequent and debilitating symptom with a relatively poorly understood pathophysiology. To determine the relationship between clinical tremor severity and structural magnetic resonance imaging parameters. Eleven patients with clinically definite MS and right-sided upper limb tremor were studied. Tremor severity was assessed using the Bain score (overall severity, writing, and Archimedes spiral drawing). Cerebellar dysfunction was assessed using the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia. Dystonia was assessed using the Global Dystonia Scale adapted for upper limb. For all subjects, volume was calculated for the thalamus from T1-weighted volumetric scans using Freesurfer. Superior cerebellar peduncle (SCP) cross-sectional areas were measured manually. The presence of lesions was visually determined and the lesion volumes were calculated by the lesion growth algorithm as implemented in the Lesion Segmentation Toolbox. Right thalamic volume negatively correlated with Bain tremor severity score (ρ = − 0.65, p = 0.03). Left thalamic volume negatively correlated with general Bain tremor severity score (ρ = − 0.65, p = 0.03) and the Bain writing score (ρ = − 0.65, p = 0.03). Right SCP area negatively correlated with Bain writing score (ρ = − 0.69, p = 0.02). Finally, Bain Archimedes score was significantly higher in patients with lesions in the contralateral thalamus. Whole brain lesion load showed no relationship with tremor severity. These results implicate degeneration of key structures within the cerebello-thalamic pathway as pathological substrates for tremor in MS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1509-1514
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Superior cerebellar peduncle
  • Thalamus
  • Tremor

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