Meyer-Arndt L, Brasanac J, Gamradt S, Bellmann-Strobl J, Maurer L, Mai K, Steward T, Spranger J, Schmitz-Hübsch T, Paul F, Gold SM, Weygandt M.

Overweight and obesity can worsen disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS). Although psychobiological stress processing is increasingly recognized as important obesity factor that is tightly connected to proinflammatory metabolic hormones and cytokines, its role for MS obesity remains unexplored. Consequently, we investigated the interplay between body mass index (BMI), neural stress processing (functional connectivity, FC), and immuno-hormonal stress parameters (salivary cortisol and T cell glucocorticoid [GC] sensitivity) in 57 people with MS (six obese, 19 over-, 28 normal-, and four underweight; 37 females, 46.4 ± 10.6 years) using an Arterial-Spin-Labeling MRI task comprising a rest and stress stage, along with quantitative PCR. Our findings revealed significant positive connections between BMI and MS disease activity (i.e., higher BMI was accompanied by higher relapse rate). BMI was positively linked to right supramarginal gyrus and anterior insula FC during rest and negatively to right superior parietal lobule and cerebellum FC during stress. BMI showed associations with GC functioning, with higher BMI associated with lower CD8+ FKBP4 expression and higher CD8+ FKBP5 expression on T cells. Finally, the expression of CD8+ FKBP4 positively correlated with the FC of right supramarginal gyrus and left superior parietal lobule during rest. Overall, our study provides evidence that body mass is tied to neuro-hormonal stress processing in people with MS. The observed pattern of associations between BMI, neural networks, and GC functioning suggests partial overlap between neuro-hormonal and neural-body mass networks. Ultimately, the study underscores the clinical importance of understanding multi-system crosstalk in MS obesity.

J Neurol. 2023 Nov 27

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