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1.  Multicentre comparison of a diagnostic assay: aquaporin-4 antibodies in neuromyelitis optica 
Antibodies to cell surface central nervous system proteins help to diagnose conditions which often respond to immunotherapies. The assessment of antibody assays needs to reflect their clinical utility. We report the results of a multicentre study of aquaporin (AQP) 4 antibody (AQP4-Ab) assays in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD).
Coded samples from patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) or NMOSD (101) and controls (92) were tested at 15 European diagnostic centres using 21 assays including live (n=3) or fixed cell-based assays (n=10), flow cytometry (n=4), immunohistochemistry (n=3) and ELISA (n=1).
Results of tests on 92 controls identified 12assays as highly specific (0–1 false-positive results). 32 samples from 50 (64%) NMO sera and 34 from 51 (67%) NMOSD sera were positive on at least two of the 12 highly specific assays, leaving 35 patients with seronegative NMO/spectrum disorder (SD). On the basis of a combination of clinical phenotype and the highly specific assays, 66 AQP4-Ab seropositive samples were used to establish the sensitivities (51.5–100%) of all 21 assays. The specificities (85.8–100%) were based on 92 control samples and 35 seronegative NMO/SD patient samples.
The cell-based assays were most sensitive and specific overall, but immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry could be equally accurate in specialist centres. Since patients with AQP4-Ab negative NMO/SD require different management, the use of both appropriate control samples and defined seronegative NMOSD samples is essential to evaluate these assays in a clinically meaningful way. The process described here can be applied to the evaluation of other antibody assays in the newly evolving field of autoimmune neurology.
PMCID: PMC5013123  PMID: 27113605
2.  Muscle magnetic resonance imaging in congenital myasthenic syndromes 
Muscle & Nerve  2016;54(2):211-219.
In this study we investigated muscle magnetic resonance imaging in congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS).
Twenty‐six patients with 9 CMS subtypes and 10 controls were imaged. T1‐weighted (T1w) and short‐tau inversion recovery (STIR) 3‐Tesla MRI images obtained at thigh and calf levels were scored for severity.
Overall mean the T1w score was increased in GFPT1 and DPAGT1 CMS. T1w scans of the AChR‐deficiency, COLQ, and CHAT subjects were indistinguishable from controls. STIR images from CMS patients did not differ significantly from those of controls. Mean T1w score correlated with age in the CMS cohort.
MRI appearances ranged from normal to marked abnormality. T1w images seem to be especially abnormal in some CMS caused by mutations of proteins involved in the glycosylation pathway. A non‐selective pattern of fat infiltration or a normal‐appearing scan in the setting of significant clinical weakness should suggest CMS as a potential diagnosis. Muscle MRI could play a role in differentiating CMS subtypes. Muscle Nerve 54: 211–219, 2016
PMCID: PMC4982021  PMID: 26789134
congenital myasthenia; diagnosis; genetic; imaging; MRI; muscle
3.  International consensus guidance for management of myasthenia gravis 
Neurology  2016;87(4):419-425.
To develop formal consensus-based guidance for the management of myasthenia gravis (MG).
In October 2013, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America appointed a Task Force to develop treatment guidance for MG, and a panel of 15 international experts was convened. The RAND/UCLA appropriateness methodology was used to develop consensus guidance statements. Definitions were developed for goals of treatment, minimal manifestations, remission, ocular MG, impending crisis, crisis, and refractory MG. An in-person panel meeting then determined 7 treatment topics to be addressed. Initial guidance statements were developed from literature summaries. Three rounds of anonymous e-mail votes were used to attain consensus on guidance statements modified on the basis of panel input.
Guidance statements were developed for symptomatic and immunosuppressive treatments, IV immunoglobulin and plasma exchange, management of impending and manifest myasthenic crisis, thymectomy, juvenile MG, MG associated with antibodies to muscle-specific tyrosine kinase, and MG in pregnancy.
This is an international formal consensus of MG experts intended to be a guide for clinicians caring for patients with MG worldwide.
PMCID: PMC4977114  PMID: 27358333
4.  Use of Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques in Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder 
JAMA neurology  2015;72(7):815-822.
Brain parenchymal lesions are frequently observed on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) spectrum disorder, but the specific morphological and temporal patterns distinguishing them unequivocally from lesions caused by other disorders have not been identified. This literature review summarizes the literature on advanced quantitative imaging measures reported for patients with NMO spectrum disorder, including proton MR spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetization transfer imaging, quantitative MR volumetry, and ultrahigh-field strength MRI. It was undertaken to consider the advanced MRI techniques used for patients with NMO by different specialists in the field. Although quantitative measures such as proton MR spectroscopy or magnetization transfer imaging have not reproducibly revealed diffuse brain injury, preliminary data from diffusion-weighted imaging and brain tissue volumetry indicate greater white matter than gray matter degradation. These findings could be confirmed by ultrahigh-field MRI. The use of nonconventional MRI techniques may further our understanding of the pathogenic processes in NMO spectrum disorders and may help us identify the distinct radiographic features corresponding to specific phenotypic manifestations of this disease.
PMCID: PMC4828237  PMID: 26010909
5.  Status of diagnostic approaches to AQP4-IgG seronegative NMO and NMO/MS overlap syndromes 
Journal of neurology  2015;263(1):140-149.
Distinguishing aquaporin-4 IgG(AQP4-IgG)-negative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) from opticospinal predominant multiple sclerosis (MS) is a clinical challenge with important treatment implications. The objective of the study was to examine whether expert clinicians diagnose and treat NMO/MS overlapping patients in a similar way. 12 AQP4-IgG-negative patients were selected to cover the range of clinical scenarios encountered in an NMO clinic. 27 NMO and MS experts reviewed their clinical vignettes, including relevant imaging and laboratory tests. Diagnoses were categorized into four groups (NMO, MS, indeterminate, other) and management into three groups (MS drugs, immunosuppression, no treatment). The mean proportion of agreement for the diagnosis was low (po = 0.51) and ranged from 0.25 to 0.73 for individual patients. The majority opinion was divided between NMOSD versus: MS (nine cases), monophasic longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM) (1), acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) (1) and recurrent isolated optic neuritis (RION) (1). Typical NMO features (e.g., LETM) influenced the diagnosis more than features more consistent with MS (e.g., short TM). Agreement on the treatment of patients was higher (po = 0.64) than that on the diagnosis with immunosuppression being the most common choice not only in patients with the diagnosis of NMO (98 %) but also in those indeterminate between NMO and MS (74 %). The diagnosis in AQP4-IgG-negative NMO/MS overlap syndromes is challenging and diverse. The classification of such patients currently requires new diagnostic categories, which incorporate lesser degrees of diagnostic confidence. Long-term follow-up may identify early features or biomarkers, which can more accurately distinguish the underlying disorder.
PMCID: PMC4816597  PMID: 26530512
All demyelinating disease (CNS); Multiple sclerosis; Devic’s syndrome; Optic neuritis; Transverse myelitis
6.  Salbutamol and ephedrine in the treatment of severe AChR deficiency syndromes 
Neurology  2015;85(12):1043-1047.
To evaluate the response to salbutamol and ephedrine in the treatment of congenital myasthenic syndromes due to CHRNE mutations causing severe acetylcholine receptor (AChR) deficiency.
A cohort study of 6 patients with severe AChR deficiency, symptomatic despite optimal therapy with anticholinesterase and 3,4-diaminopyridine, were analyzed for their response to the addition of salbutamol or ephedrine to their medication. Baseline quantitative myasthenia gravis (QMG) (severity) scores were worse than 15 of 39. Patients were assessed in clinic with QMG and mobility scores. Pretreatment and 6- to 8-month follow-up scores were evaluated.
All 6 patients tolerated treatment well and reported no side effects. There was a strong positive response to treatment over the 6- to 8-month assessment period with significant improvement in QMG (p = 0.027) and mobility scores. The analysis of subcomponents of the QMG score revealed marked improvement in upper (p = 0.028) and lower (p = 0.028) limb raise times. All patients reported enhanced activities of daily living at 6 to 8 months.
Oral salbutamol and ephedrine appear to be effective treatments in severe cases of AChR deficiency on pyridostigmine. They are well tolerated and improvement in strength can be dramatic.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class IV evidence that salbutamol or ephedrine improves muscle strength in patients with congenital myasthenia from severe AChR deficiency.
PMCID: PMC4603597  PMID: 26296515
7.  Mutations in the Mitochondrial Citrate Carrier SLC25A1 are Associated with Impaired Neuromuscular Transmission 
Background and Objective
Congenital myasthenic syndromes are rare inherited disorders characterized by fatigable weakness caused by malfunction of the neuromuscular junction. We performed whole exome sequencing to unravel the genetic aetiology in an English sib pair with clinical features suggestive of congenital myasthenia.
We used homozygosity mapping and whole exome sequencing to identify the candidate gene variants. Mutant protein expression and function were assessed in vitro and a knockdown zebrafish model was generated to assess neuromuscular junction development.
We identified a novel homozygous missense mutation in the SLC25A1 gene, encoding the mitochondrial citrate carrier. Mutant SLC25A1 showed abnormal carrier function. SLC25A1 has recently been linked to a severe, often lethal clinical phenotype. Our patients had a milder phenotype presenting primarily as a neuromuscular (NMJ) junction defect. Of note, a previously reported patient with different compound heterozygous missense mutations of SLC25A1 has since been shown to suffer from a neuromuscular transmission defect. Using knockdown of SLC25A1 expression in zebrafish, we were able to mirror the human disease in terms of variable brain, eye and cardiac involvement. Importantly, we show clear abnormalities in the neuromuscular junction, regardless of the severity of the phenotype.
Based on the axonal outgrowth defects seen in SLC25A1 knockdown zebrafish, we hypothesize that the neuromuscular junction impairment may be related to pre-synaptic nerve terminal abnormalities. Our findings highlight the complex machinery required to ensure efficient neuromuscular function, beyond the proteomes exclusive to the neuromuscular synapse.
PMCID: PMC4746751  PMID: 26870663
Congenital myasthenic syndrome; neuromuscular junction; mitochondrial citrate carrier; SLC25A1
8.  Amiloride Clinical Trial In Optic Neuritis (ACTION) protocol: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2015;5(11):e009200.
Neurodegeneration is a widely accepted contributor to the development of long-term disability in multiple sclerosis (MS). While current therapies in MS predominantly target inflammation and reduce relapse rate they have been less effective at preventing long-term disability. The identification and evaluation of effective neuroprotective therapies within a trial paradigm are key unmet needs. Emerging evidence supports amiloride, a licenced diuretic, as a neuroprotective agent in MS through acid sensing ion channel blockade. Optic neuritis (ON) is a common manifestation of MS with correlates of inflammation and neurodegeneration measurable within the visual pathways. Amiloride Clinical Trial In Optic Neuritis (ACTION) will utilise a multimodal approach to assess the neuroprotective efficacy of amiloride in acute ON.
Methods and analysis
46 patients will be recruited within 28 days from onset of ON visual symptoms and randomised on a 1:1 basis to placebo or amiloride 10 mg daily. Double-blinded treatment groups will be balanced for age, sex and visual loss severity by a random-deterministic minimisation algorithm. The primary objective is to demonstrate that amiloride is neuroprotective in ON as assessed by scanning laser polarimetry of the peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness at 6 months in the affected eye compared to the unaffected eye at baseline. RNFL in combination with further retinal measures will also be assessed by optical coherence tomography. Secondary outcome measures on brain MRI will include cortical volume, diffusion-weighted imaging, resting state functional MRI, MR spectroscopy and magnetisation transfer ratio. In addition, high and low contrast visual acuity, visual fields, colour vision and electrophysiology will be assessed alongside quality of life measures.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval was given by the south central Oxford B research ethics committee (REC reference: 13/SC/0022). The findings from ACTION will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and at scientific conferences.
Trial registration number
EudraCT2012-004980-39, Identifier: NCT01802489.
PMCID: PMC4654308  PMID: 26553836
10.  Imaging Surrogates of Disease Activity in Neuromyelitis Optica Allow Distinction from Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0137715.
Inflammatory demyelinating lesions of the central nervous system are a common feature of both neuromyelitis optica and multiple sclerosis. Despite this similarity, it is evident clinically that the accumulation of disability in patients with neuromyelitis optica is relapse related and that a progressive phase is very uncommon. This poses the question whether there is any pathological evidence of disease activity or neurodegeneration in neuromyelitis optica between relapses. To investigate this we conducted a longitudinal advanced MRI study of the brain and spinal cord in neuromyelitis optica patients, comparing to patients with multiple sclerosis and controls. We found both cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence of diffusely distributed neurodegenerative surrogates in the multiple sclerosis group (including thalamic atrophy, cervical cord atrophy and progressive widespread diffusion and myelin water imaging abnormalities in the normal appearing white matter) but not in those with neuromyelitis optica, where localised abnormalities in the optic radiations of those with severe visual impairment were noted. In addition, between relapses, there were no new silent brain lesions in the neuromyelitis optica group. These findings indicate that global central nervous system neurodegeneration is not a feature of neuromyelitis optica. The work also questions the theory that neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis is a chronic sequela to prior inflammatory and demyelinating pathology, as this has not been found to be the case in neuromyelitis optica where the lesions are often more destructive.
PMCID: PMC4575169  PMID: 26381510
11.  Mutations in GMPPB cause congenital myasthenic syndrome and bridge myasthenic disorders with dystroglycanopathies 
Brain  2015;138(9):2493-2504.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes are associated with impairments in neuromuscular transmission. Belaya et al. show that mutations of the glycosylation pathway enzyme GMPPB, which has previously been implicated in muscular dystrophy dystroglycanopathy, also cause a congenital myasthenic syndrome. This differential diagnosis is important to ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate medication.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes are associated with impairments in neuromuscular transmission. Belaya et al. show that mutations of the glycosylation pathway enzyme GMPPB, which has previously been implicated in muscular dystrophy dystroglycanopathy, also cause a congenital myasthenic syndrome. This differential diagnosis is important to ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate medication.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes are inherited disorders that arise from impaired signal transmission at the neuromuscular junction. Mutations in at least 20 genes are known to lead to the onset of these conditions. Four of these, ALG2, ALG14, DPAGT1 and GFPT1, are involved in glycosylation. Here we identify a fifth glycosylation gene, GMPPB, where mutations cause congenital myasthenic syndrome. First, we identified recessive mutations in seven cases from five kinships defined as congenital myasthenic syndrome using decrement of compound muscle action potentials on repetitive nerve stimulation on electromyography. The mutations were present through the length of the GMPPB, and segregation, in silico analysis, exon trapping, cell transfection followed by western blots and immunostaining were used to determine pathogenicity. GMPPB congenital myasthenic syndrome cases show clinical features characteristic of congenital myasthenic syndrome subtypes that are due to defective glycosylation, with variable weakness of proximal limb muscle groups while facial and eye muscles are largely spared. However, patients with GMPPB congenital myasthenic syndrome had more prominent myopathic features that were detectable on muscle biopsies, electromyography, muscle magnetic resonance imaging, and through elevated serum creatine kinase levels. Mutations in GMPPB have recently been reported to lead to the onset of muscular dystrophy dystroglycanopathy. Analysis of four additional GMPPB-associated muscular dystrophy dystroglycanopathy cases by electromyography found that a defective neuromuscular junction component is not always present. Thus, we find mutations in GMPPB can lead to a wide spectrum of clinical features where deficit in neuromuscular transmission is the major component in a subset of cases. Clinical recognition of GMPPB-associated congenital myasthenic syndrome may be complicated by the presence of myopathic features, but correct diagnosis is important because affected individuals can respond to appropriate treatments.
PMCID: PMC4547052  PMID: 26133662
congenital myasthenic syndrome; glycosylation; GMPPB; neurotransmission defect; dystroglycan
12.  MRI in Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy: the relationship to multiple sclerosis 
Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) and a multiple sclerosis (MS)-like illness appear to coexist 50 times more frequently than would be expected by chance. This association of LHON and MS (LMS) raises an important question about whether there could be a common pathophysiological mechanism involving mitochondrial dysfunction.
The primary aim was to define MRI features of LMS and LHON, and to assess the proportions of individuals displaying features typical of MS. Secondarily, we investigated the effect of gender on the risk of developing white matter lesions in the context of LHON.
A blinded standardised review of conventional brain MRIs of 30 patients with MS, 31 patients with LHON and 11 patients with LMS was conducted by three independent experts in the field. MS-like MRI features were assessed.
All patients with LMS and 26% of patients with LHON had white matter lesions. Of these, all patients with LMS and 25% with LHON were found to have an MRI appearance typical of MS. Female patients with LHON had a significantly greater risk of having white matter lesions consistent with MS compared with male patients (relative risk 8.3).
A blinded review of conventional brain MRIs shows that patients with LMS have a scan appearance indistinguishable from MS. Mitochondrial dysfunction could be a common pathophysiological pathway in the formation of white matter lesions. There appears to be a strong female influence on the radiological appearance as well as clinical development of MS in patients with LHON.
PMCID: PMC4413690  PMID: 25053773
Leber Heredit Optic Atropy; MRI; Multiple Sclerosis; Neurogenetics
13.  Challenges and opportunities in designing clinical trials for neuromyelitis optica 
Neurology  2015;84(17):1805-1815.
Current management of neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is noncurative and only partially effective. Immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory agents are the mainstays of maintenance treatment. Safer, better-tolerated, and proven effective treatments are needed. The perceived rarity of NMO has impeded clinical trials for this disease. However, a diagnostic biomarker and recognition of a wider spectrum of NMO presentations has expanded the patient population from which study candidates might be recruited. Emerging insights into the pathogenesis of NMO have provided rationale for exploring new therapeutic targets. Academic, pharmaceutical, and regulatory communities are increasingly interested in meeting the unmet needs of patients with NMO. Clinical trials powered to yield unambiguous outcomes and designed to facilitate rapid evaluation of an expanding pipeline of experimental agents are needed. NMO-related disability occurs incrementally as a result of attacks; thus, limiting attack frequency and severity are critical treatment goals. Yet, the severity of NMO and perception that currently available agents are effective pose challenges to study design. We propose strategies for NMO clinical trials to evaluate agents targeting recovery from acute attacks and prevention of relapses, the 2 primary goals of NMO treatment. Aligning the interests of all stakeholders is an essential step to this end.
PMCID: PMC4424131  PMID: 25841026
14.  A type 2 biomarker separates relapsing-remitting from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis 
Neurology  2014;83(17):1492-1499.
We tested whether it is possible to differentiate relapsing-remitting (RR) from secondary progressive (SP) disease stages in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) using a combination of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics and partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) of biofluids, which makes no assumptions on the underlying mechanisms of disease.
Serum samples were obtained from patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), SPMS, and RRMS; patients with other neurodegenerative conditions; and age-matched controls. Samples were analyzed by NMR and PLS-DA models were derived to separate disease groups.
The PLS-DA models for serum samples from patients with MS enabled reliable differentiation between RRMS and SPMS. This approach also identified significant differences between the metabolite profiles of each of the MS groups (PP, SP, and RR) and the healthy controls, as well as predicting disease group membership with high specificity and sensitivity.
NMR metabolomics analysis of serum is a sensitive and robust method for differentiating between different stages of MS, yielding diagnostic markers without a priori knowledge of disease pathogenesis. Critically, this study identified and validated a type II biomarker for the RR to SP transition in patients with MS. This approach may be of considerable benefit in categorizing patients for treatment and as an outcome measure in future clinical trials.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class II evidence that serum metabolite profiles accurately distinguish patients with different subtypes and stages of MS.
PMCID: PMC4222850  PMID: 25253748
15.  MOG cell-based assay detects non-MS patients with inflammatory neurologic disease 
To optimize sensitivity and disease specificity of a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) antibody assay.
Consecutive sera (n = 1,109) sent for aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibody testing were screened for MOG antibodies (Abs) by cell-based assays using either full-length human MOG (FL-MOG) or the short-length form (SL-MOG). The Abs were initially detected by Alexa Fluor goat anti-human IgG (H + L) and subsequently by Alexa Fluor mouse antibodies to human IgG1.
When tested at 1:20 dilution, 40/1,109 sera were positive for AQP4-Abs, 21 for SL-MOG, and 180 for FL-MOG. Only one of the 40 AQP4-Ab–positive sera was positive for SL-MOG-Abs, but 10 (25%) were positive for FL-MOG-Abs (p = 0.0069). Of equal concern, 48% (42/88) of sera from controls (patients with epilepsy) were positive by FL-MOG assay. However, using an IgG1-specific secondary antibody, only 65/1,109 (5.8%) sera were positive on FL-MOG, and AQP4-Ab– positive and control sera were negative. IgM reactivity accounted for the remaining anti-human IgG (H + L) positivity toward FL-MOG. The clinical diagnoses were obtained in 33 FL-MOG–positive patients, blinded to the antibody data. IgG1-Abs to FL-MOG were associated with optic neuritis (n = 11), AQP4-seronegative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (n = 4), and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (n = 1). All 7 patients with probable multiple sclerosis (MS) were MOG-IgG1 negative.
The limited disease specificity of FL-MOG-Abs identified using Alexa Fluor goat anti-human IgG (H + L) is due in part to detection of IgM-Abs. Use of the FL-MOG and restricting to IgG1-Abs substantially improves specificity for non-MS demyelinating diseases.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class II evidence that the presence of serum IgG1- MOG-Abs in AQP4-Ab–negative patients distinguishes non-MS CNS demyelinating disorders from MS (sensitivity 24%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9%–45%; specificity 100%, 95% CI 88%–100%).
PMCID: PMC4370386  PMID: 25821844
16.  MRI characteristics of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder 
Neurology  2015;84(11):1165-1173.
Since its initial reports in the 19th century, neuromyelitis optica (NMO) had been thought to involve only the optic nerves and spinal cord. However, the discovery of highly specific anti–aquaporin-4 antibody diagnostic biomarker for NMO enabled recognition of more diverse clinical spectrum of manifestations. Brain MRI abnormalities in patients seropositive for anti–aquaporin-4 antibody are common and some may be relatively unique by virtue of localization and configuration. Some seropositive patients present with brain involvement during their first attack and/or continue to relapse in the same location without optic nerve and spinal cord involvement. Thus, characteristics of brain abnormalities in such patients have become of increased interest. In this regard, MRI has an increasingly important role in the differential diagnosis of NMO and its spectrum disorder (NMOSD), particularly from multiple sclerosis. Differentiating these conditions is of prime importance because early initiation of effective immunosuppressive therapy is the key to preventing attack-related disability in NMOSD, whereas some disease-modifying drugs for multiple sclerosis may exacerbate the disease. Therefore, identifying the MRI features suggestive of NMOSD has diagnostic and prognostic implications. We herein review the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord MRI findings of NMOSD.
PMCID: PMC4371410  PMID: 25695963
17.  Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibodies are associated with a non-MS course in children 
To determine whether myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibodies (MOG-Abs) were predictive of a demyelination phenotype in children presenting with acquired demyelinating syndrome (ADS).
Sixty-five children with a first episode of ADS (12 acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, 24 optic neuritis, 18 transverse myelitis, 11 other clinically isolated syndrome) were identified from 2 national demyelination programs in the United Kingdom and France. Acute serum samples were tested for MOG-Abs by cell-based assay. Antibodies were used to predict diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) at 1 year.
Twenty-three of 65 (35%) children had MOG-Abs. Antibody-positive and antibody-negative patients were not clinically different at presentation, but identification of MOG-Abs predicted a non-MS course at 1-year follow-up: only 2/23 (9%) MOG-Ab–positive patients were diagnosed with MS compared to 16/42 (38%) MOG-Ab–negative patients (p = 0.019, Fisher exact test). Antibody positivity at outset was a useful predictor for a non-MS disease course, with a positive predictive value of 91% (95% confidence interval [CI] 72–99), negative predictive value of 38% (95% CI 24–54), positive likelihood ratio of 4.02 (CI 1.0–15.4), and odds ratio of 6.5 (CI 1.3–31.3).
MOG-Abs are found at presentation in 35% of patients with childhood ADS, across a range of demyelinating disorders. Antibody positivity can be useful in predicting a non-MS disease course at onset.
PMCID: PMC4360800  PMID: 25798445
19.  Neuroplasticity and functional recovery in multiple sclerosis 
Nature reviews. Neurology  2012;8(11):635-646.
The development of therapeutic strategies that promote functional recovery is a major goal of multiple sclerosis (MS) research. Neuroscientific and methodological advances have improved our understanding of the brain’s recovery from damage, generating novel hypotheses for potential targets or modes of intervention and laying the foundation for the development of scientifically informed strategies promoting recovery in interventional studies. This Review aims to encourage the transition from characterization of recovery mechanisms to the development of strategies that promote recovery in MS. We discuss current evidence for functional reorganization that underlies recovery and its implications for development of new recovery-oriented strategies in MS. Promotion of functional recovery requires an improved understanding of recovery mechanisms modulated by interventions and the development of reliable measures of therapeutic effects. As imaging methods can be used to measure functional and structural alterations associated with recovery, this Review discusses their use as reliable markers to measure the effects of interventions.
PMCID: PMC3770511  PMID: 22986429
20.  Treatment of Neuromyelitis Optica: Review and Recommendations 
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease preferentially targeting the optic nerves and spinal cord. Once regarded as a variant of multiple sclerosis (MS), NMO is now recognized to be a different disease with unique pathology and immunopathogenesis that does not respond to traditional MS immunomodulators such as interferons. Preventive therapy in NMO has focused on a range of immunosuppressive medications, none of which have been validated in a rigorous randomized trial. However, multiple retrospective and a few recent prospective studies have provided evidence for the use of six medications for the prevention of NMO exacerbations: azathioprine, rituximab, mycophenolate mofetil, prednisone, methotrexate and mitoxantrone. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of each of these medications in NMO and concludes with a set of recommended consensus practices.
PMCID: PMC3926208  PMID: 24555176
Neuromyelitis optica; aquaporin 4; drug therapy; immunosuppression
21.  UK multiple sclerosis risk-sharing scheme: a new natural history dataset and an improved Markov model 
BMJ Open  2014;4(1):e004073.
In 2002, the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence concluded that the multiple sclerosis (MS) disease modifying therapies; interferon-β and glatiramer acetate, were not cost effective over the short term but recognised that reducing disability over the longer term might dramatically improve the cost effectiveness. The UK Risk-sharing Scheme (RSS) was established to ensure cost-effective provision by prospectively collecting disability-related data from UK-treated patients with MS and comparing findings to a natural history (untreated) cohort. However, deficiencies were found in the originally selected untreated cohort and the resulting analytical approach. This study aims to identify a more suitable natural history cohort and to develop a robust analytical approach using the new cohort.
The Scientific Advisory Group, recommended the British Columbia Multiple Sclerosis (BCMS) database, Canada, as providing a more suitable natural history comparator cohort. Transition probabilities were derived and different Markov models (discrete and continuous) with and without baseline covariates were applied.
MS clinics in Canada and the UK.
From the BCMS database, 898 ‘untreated’ patients with MS considered eligible for drug treatment based on the UK's Association of British Neurologists criteria.
Outcome measure
The predicted Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score was collected and assessed for goodness of fit when compared with actual outcome.
The BCMS untreated cohort contributed 7335 EDSS scores over a median 6.4 years (6357 EDSS ‘transitions’ recorded at consecutive visits) during the period 1980–1995. A continuous Markov model with ‘onset age’ as a binary covariate was deemed the most suitable model for future RSS analysis.
A new untreated MS cohort from British Columbia has been selected and will be modelled using a continuous Markov model with onset age as a baseline covariate. This approach will now be applied to the treated UK RSS MS cohort for future price adjustment calculations.
PMCID: PMC3902459  PMID: 24441054
quality of life; risk sharing scheme; interferon-beta; glatiramer acetate; Markov model
23.  Assessment of cardiac safety during fingolimod treatment initiation in a real-world relapsing multiple sclerosis population: a phase 3b, open-label study 
Journal of Neurology  2013;261(2):267-276.
The aim of this study was to evaluate short-term safety and tolerability of fingolimod in a real-world population with relapsing multiple sclerosis, focusing on cardiac safety during treatment initiation. Patients received fingolimod 0.5 mg once daily for four months. Patients excluded from the pivotal studies with certain pre-existing cardiac conditions or baseline cardiac findings (PCCs), and those receiving beta blockers (BBs) and/or calcium channel blockers (CCBs), were eligible. Heart rate (HR) and electrical conduction events were monitored using ambulatory electrocardiography for at least 6 h after the first dose. Of 2,417 enrolled patients, 2,282 (94.4 %) completed the study. Fingolimod initiation was associated with a transient, mostly asymptomatic decrease in HR. Bradycardia adverse events occurred in 0.6 % of patients and were more frequent in individuals receiving BBs/CCBs (3.3 %) than in other patient subgroups (0.5–1.4 %); most events were asymptomatic, and all patients recovered without pharmacological intervention. In the 6 h post-dose, the incidences of Mobitz type I second-degree atrioventricular block (AVB) and 2:1 AVB were higher in patients with PCCs (4.1 and 2.0 %, respectively) than in those without (0.9 and 0.3 %, respectively); at pre-dose screening, patients with PCCs had the same incidence of Mobitz type I second-degree AVB (4.1 %) and a slightly lower incidence of 2:1 AVB (0.7 %) than 6 h post-dose. All recorded conduction abnormalities were asymptomatic. This study adds to the evidence showing that cardiac effects during fingolimod initiation remain consistent with those known from previous, controlled studies, even if patients with PCCs are included.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00415-013-7115-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3915082  PMID: 24221641
Fingolimod; Multiple sclerosis; Safety; Tolerability
24.  Distinction of seropositive NMO spectrum disorder and MS brain lesion distribution 
Neurology  2013;80(14):1330-1337.
Neuromyelitis optica and its spectrum disorder (NMOSD) can present similarly to relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Using a quantitative lesion mapping approach, this research aimed to identify differences in MRI brain lesion distribution between aquaporin-4 antibody–positive NMOSD and RRMS, and to test their diagnostic potential.
Clinical brain MRI sequences for 44 patients with aquaporin-4 antibody–positive NMOSD and 50 patients with RRMS were examined for the distribution and morphology of brain lesions. T2 lesion maps were created for each subject allowing the quantitative comparison of the 2 conditions with lesion probability and voxel-wise analysis.
Sixty-three percent of patients with NMOSD had brain lesions and of these 27% were diagnostic of multiple sclerosis. Patients with RRMS were significantly more likely to have lesions adjacent to the body of the lateral ventricle than patients with NMOSD. Direct comparison of the probability distributions and the morphologic attributes of the lesions in each group identified criteria of “at least 1 lesion adjacent to the body of the lateral ventricle and in the inferior temporal lobe; or the presence of a subcortical U-fiber lesion; or a Dawson's finger-type lesion,” which could distinguish patients with multiple sclerosis from those with NMOSD with 92% sensitivity, 96% specificity, 98% positive predictive value, and 86% negative predictive value.
Careful inspection of the distribution and morphology of MRI brain lesions can distinguish RRMS and NMOSD.
PMCID: PMC3656462  PMID: 23486868
25.  Biomarker Report from the Phase II Lamotrigine Trial in Secondary Progressive MS – Neurofilament as a Surrogate of Disease Progression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70019.
Lamotrigine trial in SPMS was a randomised control trial to assess whether partial blockade of sodium channels has a neuroprotective effect. The current study was an additional study to investigate the value of neurofilament (NfH) and other biomarkers in predicting prognosis and/or response to treatment.
SPMS patients who attended the NHNN or the Royal Free Hospital, UK, eligible for inclusion were invited to participate in the biomarker study. Primary outcome was whether lamotrigine would significantly reduce detectable serum NfH at 0-12, 12–24 and 0–24 months compared to placebo. Other serum/plasma and CSF biomarkers were also explored.
Treatment effect by comparing absolute changes in NfH between the lamotrigine and placebo group showed no difference, however based on serum lamotrigine adherence there was significant decline in NfH (NfH 12–24 months p = 0.043, Nfh 0–24 months p = 0.023). Serum NfH correlated with disability: walking times, 9-HPT (non-dominant hand), PASAT, z-score, MSIS-29 (psychological) and EDSS and MRI cerebral atrophy and MTR. Other biomarkers explored in this study were not found to be significantly associated, aside from that of plasma osteopontin.
The relations between NfH and clinical scores of disability and MRI measures of atrophy and disease burden support NfH being a potential surrogate endpoint complementing MRI in neuroprotective trials and sample sizes for such trials are presented here. We did not observe a reduction in NfH levels between the Lamotrigine and placebo arms, however, the reduction in serum NfH levels based on lamotrigine adherence points to a possible neuroprotective effect of lamotrigine on axonal degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3731296  PMID: 23936370

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