Background: Impairment of cardiovascular control is common in multiple sclerosis (MS), possibly due to damage of strategic brain regions such as the insula. Aerobic training (AT) targets cardiopulmonary system and may represent a neuroprotective strategy. Purpose: To investigate whether insular damage (T2-hyperintense lesions and volume) is associated with cardiovascular fitness (CF) and influences AT effects in MS. Methods: Sixty-one MS patients were randomized to an AT intervention group (MS-AT) and a motor training control group (MS-C). At baseline and after training (24 sessions over 2-3 months), peak of oxygen consumption (VO2max), heart rate reserve (HRR), 6-min walk test (6MWT) and whole brain and insula MRI data were collected. Two healthy control (HC) groups were enrolled for CF and MRI data analysis. Results: At baseline, MS patients vs HC showed impaired VO2max, HRR and 6MWT (p < 0.001) and widespread gray matter atrophy, including bilateral insula. In MS patients, left insula T2-lesion volume correlated with HRR (r = 0.27, p = 0.042). After training, MS-AT, especially those without insular T2-hyperintense lesions, showed 6MWT improvement (p < 0.05) and a stable insular volume, whereas MS-C showed left insular volume loss (p < 0.001). Conclusions: By increasing 6MWT performance, our results suggest that AT may improve walking capacity and submaximal measure of CF in MS patients. Such beneficial effect may be modulated by insula integrity.
The insula modulates the effects of aerobic training on cardiovascular function and ambulation in multiple sclerosis / Albergoni, Matteo; Storelli, Loredana; Preziosa, Paolo; Rocca, Maria A; Filippi, Massimo. - In: JOURNAL OF NEUROLOGY. - ISSN 0340-5354. - 270:3(2023), pp. 1672-1681. [10.1007/s00415-022-11513-0]