A new study has found that Latino patients are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis at an earlier age and have suffered from a more debilitating form of the disease than white patients. 

A group of researchers led by Carlos A. Pérez, M.D., a multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology fellow at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s McGovern Medical School, examined brain MRI images from Latino patients with MS and compared them to 94 images of white MS patients with equivalent ages and gender count. All 188 patients were scanned using the same imaging equipment. 

The analysis showed that overall, Latino patients had much more severe MS symptoms than white patients. The researchers also found that Latino patients had a higher chance of their relapsing-remitting MS changing into secondary-remitting MS at a younger age than white patients, at approximately 39 years-old, compared with 43 for white patients. Latino patients also had higher rates of neurodegeneration or inherent race-dependent brain volume difference, ultimately pointing to more significant brain injury in this group. 

“These findings may suggest race-dependent mechanisms leading to the accumulation of irreversible clinical impairment in MS,” wrote the study authors.