Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) know their health status is more vulnerable than most, and obesity is an important modifiable risk factor, but new research also suggests greater BMI may be linked with higher acute optic neuritis severity in males with the condition.

The investigation also reports that the hormones estrogen and leptin appeared to influence the ocular condition in men with MS.

The study enrolled 61 MS patients whose acute optic neuritis severity and recovery—which was based on VA outcomes—was evaluated before, during and after the relapse. Investigators measured participants’ BMI and their serum concentrations of estrogen, leptin, testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, and vitamin D.

Using logistic regression, males with moderate/severe acute optic neuritis had higher BMI (31.26 vs. 25.73), greater serum estrogen levels (32.24nmol/L vs. 23.06nmol/L) and enhanced serum leptin rates (12.29ng/mL vs. 4.1ng/mL) compared with male subjects with mild acute optic neuritis.

Of note: researchers didn’t observe these same findings in female patients.

“We did not find an association with BMI or hormone levels and acute optic neuritis recovery,” researchers wrote in their paper.

Chu DT, Rosso M, Gonzalez CT, et al. Obesity is association with the optic neuritis severity in male patients with multiple sclerosis. Mult scler relat disord. March 21, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].