Several bioengineering approaches have been proposed for peripheral nervous system repair, with limited results and still open questions about the underlying molecular mechanisms. We assessed the biological processes that occur after the implantation of collagen scaffold with a peculiar porous microstructure of the wall in a rat sciatic nerve transection model compared to commercial collagen conduits and nerve crush injury using functional, histological and genome wide analyses. We demonstrated that within 60 days, our conduit had been completely substituted by a normal nerve. Gene expression analysis documented a precise sequential regulation of known genes involved in angiogenesis, Schwann cells/axons interactions and myelination, together with a selective modulation of key biological pathways for nerve morphogenesis induced by porous matrices. These data suggest that the scaffold’s microstructure profoundly influences cell behaviors and creates an instructive micro-environment to enhance nerve morphogenesis that can be exploited to improve recovery and understand the molecular differences between repair and regeneration.
Biomaterials; Peripheral nervous system; Nerve regeneration; Medical device
We first tested the brain reserve (BR) hypothesis in multiple sclerosis (MS) by examining whether larger maximal lifetime brain volume (MLBV; determined by genetics) protects against disease-related cognitive impairment, and then investigated whether cognitive reserve (CR) gained through life experience (intellectually enriching leisure activities) protects against cognitive decline independently of MLBV (BR).
Sixty-two patients with MS (41 relapsing-remitting MS, 21 secondary progressive MS) received MRIs to estimate BR (MLBV, estimated with intracranial volume [ICV]) and disease burden (T2 lesion load; atrophy of gray matter, white matter, thalamus, and hippocampus). Early-life cognitive leisure was measured as a source of CR. We assessed cognitive status with tasks of cognitive efficiency and memory. Hierarchical regressions were used to investigate whether higher BR (ICV) protects against cognitive impairment, and whether higher CR (leisure) independently protects against cognitive impairment over and above BR.
Cognitive status was positively associated with ICV (R2 = 0.066, p = 0.017). An ICV × disease burden interaction (R2 = 0.050, p = 0.030) revealed that larger ICV attenuated the impact of disease burden on cognition. Controlling for BR, higher education (R2 = 0.047, p = 0.030) and leisure (R2 = 0.090, p = 0.001) predicted better cognition. A leisure × disease burden interaction (R2 = 0.037, p = 0.030) showed that leisure independently attenuated the impact of disease burden on cognition. Follow-up analyses revealed that BR protected against cognitive inefficiency, not memory deficits, whereas CR was more protective against memory deficits than cognitive inefficiency.
We provide evidence of BR in MS, and show that CR independently protects against disease-related cognitive decline over and above BR. Lifestyle choices protect against cognitive impairment independently of genetic factors outside of one's control.
Most of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients undergo disease modifying drug (DMD) therapy at childbearing age. The objective of this prospective, collaborative study, was to assess outcomes of pregnancies fathered by MS patients undergoing DMD.
Structured interviews on pregnancies fathered by MS patients gathered in the Italian Pregnancy Dataset were collected; pregnancies were divided according to father exposure or unexposure to DMD at time of procreation. Treatment were compared with multivariable logistic and linear models.
Seventy-eight pregnancies fathered by MS patients were tracked. Forty-five patients were taking DMD at time of conception (39 beta-interferons, 6 glatiramer acetate), while 33 pregnancies were unexposed to DMD. Seventy-five pregnancies ended in live-births, 44 in the exposed and 31 in the unexposed group. No significant differences between the two groups were found in the risk of spontaneous abortion or malformations (p > 0.454), mean gestational age (p = 0.513), frequency of cesarean delivery (p = 0.644), birth weight (p = 0.821) and birth length (p = 0.649). In comparison with data of the Italian general population, the proportion of spontaneous abortion and caesarean delivery in exposed pregnancies fell within the estimates, while the proportion of pre-term delivery in the exposed group was higher than expected.
Our data indicate no association between paternal DMD exposure at time of conception and risk of spontaneous abortion, adverse fetal outcomes and congenital malformations. Further studies clarifying the role of DMD fathers intake prior and during pregnancy are desirable, to supply guidelines for clinical practice.
Multiple sclerosis; Paternity; Pregnancy; Interferon beta; Glatiramer acetate
Using the ImmunoChip custom genotyping array, we analysed 14,498 multiple sclerosis subjects and 24,091 healthy controls for 161,311 autosomal variants and identified 135 potentially associated regions (p-value < 1.0 × 10-4). In a replication phase, we combined these data with previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from an independent 14,802 multiple sclerosis subjects and 26,703 healthy controls. In these 80,094 individuals of European ancestry we identified 48 new susceptibility variants (p-value < 5.0 × 10-8); three found after conditioning on previously identified variants. Thus, there are now 110 established multiple sclerosis risk variants in 103 discrete loci outside of the Major Histocompatibility Complex. With high resolution Bayesian fine-mapping, we identified five regions where one variant accounted for more than 50% of the posterior probability of association. This study enhances the catalogue of multiple sclerosis risk variants and illustrates the value of fine-mapping in the resolution of GWAS signals.
Even though anti-interferon beta (IFNβ) antibodies are the main determinants of IFNβ bioactivity loss and Myxovirus-resistance protein A (MxA) is the most established marker of IFNβ biological activity in IFNβ-treated multiple sclerosis patients, their usefulness in the routine clinical practice is still debated. Therefore, 118 multiple sclerosis patients naïve for treatment were enrolled for a 3-year longitudinal observational study mimicking the conditions of a real-world setting. In order to evaluate the kinetics of bioactivity loss in blood samples obtained every 6 months after therapy initiation, MxA and interferon receptor isoform/subunit mRNA were quantified by real-time PCR, anti-IFNβ binding antibodies were detected by radioimmunoprecipitation, and neutralizing antibodies by cytopathic effect inhibition assay. Clinical measures of disease activity and disability progression were also obtained at all time points. We found that, at the individual-patient level, the response to IFNβ therapy was extremely heterogeneous, including patients with stable or transitory, early or late loss of IFNβ bioactivity, and patients with samples lacking MxA mRNA induction in spite of absence of antibodies. No interferon receptor isoform alterations that could explain these findings were found. At the group level, none of these biological features correlated with the measures of clinical disease activity or progression. However, when MxA mRNA was evaluated not at the single time point as a dichotomic marker (induced vs. non-induced), but as the mean of its values measured over the 6-to-24 month period, the increasing average MxA predicted a decreasing risk of short-term disability progression, independently from the presence of relapses. Therefore, a more bioactive treatment, even if unable to suppress relapses, reduces their severity by an amount that is proportional to MxA levels. Together with its feasibility in the routine laboratory setting, these data warrant the quantification of MxA mRNA as a primary tool for a routine monitoring of IFNβ therapy.
In patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) fingolimod prevents disease relapses and delays disability progression. First dose administration of fingolimod is associated with a transient, dose-dependent decrease in heart rate (HR) in the 6 hours after drug intake.
The aim of the study is to to assess safety and tolerability of the first dose of fingolimod in a cohort of Italian patients with RRMS without alternative therapeutic options.
Open-label, single arm, multicentre study. After the first dose of fingolimod, patients were observed for 6 hours and had their vital signs monitored hourly. Extended on-site monitoring was provided when required.
Of the 906 patients enrolled in the study, most (95.2%) did not experience any adverse event (AE) following fingolimod administration. Cardiovascular AEs occurred in 18 patients and included bradycardia (1.3%), first-and second-degree atrioventricular block (0.1% and 0.2%), palpitations (0.1%), sinus arrhythmia (0.1%) and ventricular premature beats (0.1%). All events were self-limiting and did not require any intervention. Extended monitoring was required in 34 patients.
These results, in a population who better resembled real-world clinical practice in terms of concomitant diseases and medications, are consistent with previous clinical trials and confirmed that the first dose administration of fingolimod is generally safe and well tolerated.
Atrioventricular block; Bradycardia; Multiple sclerosis; Fingolimod; Safety; Tolerability
Background. Oxidative stress is well documented in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions, but its correspondence at peripheral level is still controversial. Objective. To evaluate peripheral oxidative stress markers in MS patients. Methods. We studied total blood levels of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), oxidized and reduced forms of glutathione, malondialdehyde, reactive oxygen species (ROS), anti-oxidized-low-density lipoproteins (anti-oxLDL) antibodies, and antioxidant power (PAO) in 87 patients with different MS clinical phenotypes and in 77 controls. Results. CoQ10 was lower whereas anti-oxLDL antibodies titer was higher in MS patients than in controls. The benign variant of MS displayed both higher CoQ10 and higher anti-oxLDL than other MS clinical variants. Female patients had lower CoQ10 and PAO and higher ROS than male patients. Differences were greater in younger patients with shorter disease duration. Surprisingly, there was no difference for these markers between treated and untreated patients. Conclusion. We found lower antioxidant agents and higher anti-oxLDL antibodies in MS, and the highest antibody titers occurred in the benign form. We suggest that natural anti-oxLDL antibodies can be protective against MS, saving blood brain barrier integrity. Our findings also suggest that milder MS is associated with a distinct oxidative stress pattern, which may provide a useful biomarker of disease prognosis.
The REFLEX study (NCT00404352) established that subcutaneous (sc) interferon (IFN) β-1a reduced the risks of McDonald MS (2005 criteria) and clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS) in patients with a first clinical demyelinating event suggestive of MS. The aim of this subgroup analysis was to assess the treatment effect of sc IFN β-1a in patient subgroups defined by baseline disease and demographic characteristics (age, sex, use of steroids at the first event, classification of first event as mono- or multifocal, presence/absence of gadolinium-enhancing lesions, count of <9 or ≥9 T2 lesions), and by diagnosis of MS using the revised McDonald 2010 MS criteria. Patients were randomized to the serum-free formulation of IFN β-1a, 44 μg sc three times weekly or once weekly, or placebo, for 24 months or until diagnosis of CDMS. Treatment effects of sc IFN β-1a on McDonald 2005 MS and CDMS in the predefined subgroups were similar to effects found in the intent-to-treat population. McDonald 2010 MS was retrospectively diagnosed in 37.7 % of patients at baseline. Both regimens of sc IFN β-1a significantly reduced the risk versus placebo of McDonald 2005 MS and CDMS, irrespective of McDonald 2010 status at baseline (risk reductions between 29 and 51 %). The effect of sc IFN β-1a was not substantially influenced by baseline patient demographic and disease characteristics, or baseline presence/absence of McDonald 2010 MS.
Interferon beta; First clinical demyelinating event; Clinically isolated syndrome; McDonald MS; Clinically definite MS
This is a cross-sectional study aimed at investigating cognitive performances in patients with primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) and using diffusion tensor (DT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the topographical distribution of microstructural white matter (WM) damage in patients with or without cognitive deficits.
DT MRI scans were obtained from 21 PLS patients and 35 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. All PLS patients underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Tract-based-spatial-statistics (TBSS) was used to perform a whole-brain voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA), axial, radial (radD) and mean diffusivity (MD).
Ten PLS patients had abnormal scores in at least one neuropsychological test (PLS with cognitive deficits, PLS-cd). Compared with healthy controls and cognitively unimpaired PLS patients (PLS-cu), PLS-cd cases showed decreased FA and increased MD and radD in the corticospinal tract (CST), corpus callosum, brainstem, anterior limb of internal capsule, superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, fornix, thalamic radiations, and parietal lobes, bilaterally. Compared with healthy controls, PLS-cd patients showed further decreased FA and increased radD in the cerebellar WM, bilaterally. Compared with controls, PLS-cu patients showed decreased FA in the mid-body of corpus callosum. In PLS, executive and language test scores correlated with WM damage.
This is the first study evaluating the relationship between cognitive performance and WM tract damage in PLS patients. PLS can be associated with a multi-domain cognitive impairment. WM damage to interhemispheric, limbic and major associative WM tracts seem to be the structural correlate of cognitive abnormalities in these patients.
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.
Fingolimod; Multiple sclerosis; Safety; Tolerability
Multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses impose a substantial clinical and economic burden. Teriflunomide is a new oral disease-modifying therapy approved for the treatment of relapsing MS. We evaluated the effects of teriflunomide treatment on relapse-related neurological sequelae and healthcare resource use in a post hoc analysis of the Phase III TEMSO study. Confirmed relapses associated with neurological sequelae [defined by an increase in Expanded Disability Status Scale/Functional System (sequelae-EDSS/FS) ≥30 days post relapse or by the investigator (sequelae-investigator)] were analyzed in the modified intention-to-treat population (n = 1086). Relapses requiring hospitalization or intravenous (IV) corticosteroids, all hospitalizations, emergency medical facility visits (EMFV), and hospitalized nights for relapse were also assessed. Annualized rates were derived using a Poisson model with treatment, baseline EDSS strata, and region as covariates. Risks of sequelae and hospitalization per relapse were calculated as percentages and groups were compared with a χ2 test. Compared with placebo, teriflunomide reduced annualized rates of relapses with sequelae-EDSS/FS [7 mg by 32 % (p = 0.0019); 14 mg by 36 % (p = 0.0011)] and sequelae-investigator [25 % (p = 0.071); 53 % (p < 0.0001)], relapses leading to hospitalization [36 % (p = 0.015); 59 % (p < 0.0001)], and relapses requiring IV corticosteroids [29 % (p = 0.001); 34 % (p = 0.0003)]. Teriflunomide-treated patients spent fewer nights in hospital for relapse (p < 0.01). Teriflunomide 14 mg also decreased annualized rates of all hospitalizations (p = 0.01) and EMFV (p = 0.004). The impact of teriflunomide on relapse-related neurological sequelae and relapses requiring healthcare resources may translate into reduced healthcare costs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00415-013-6979-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Clinical trial; Economics; Multiple sclerosis; Outcome assessment (Health Care); Teriflunomide
to explore the association between genetic markers and Oligoclonal Bands (OCB) in the Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) of Italian Multiple Sclerosis patients.
We genotyped 1115 Italian patients for HLA-DRB1*15 and HLA-A*02. In a subset of 925 patients we tested association with 52 non-HLA SNPs associated with MS susceptibility and we calculated a weighted Genetic Risk Score. Finally, we performed a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) with OCB status on a subset of 562 patients. The best associated SNPs of the Italian GWAS were replicated in silico in Scandinavian and Belgian populations, and meta-analyzed.
HLA-DRB1*15 is associated with OCB+: p = 0.03, Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.6, 95% Confidence Limits (CL) = 1.1–2.4. None of the 52 non-HLA MS susceptibility loci was associated with OCB, except one SNP (rs2546890) near IL12B gene (OR: 1.45; 1.09–1.92). The weighted Genetic Risk Score mean was significantly (p = 0.0008) higher in OCB+ (7.668) than in OCB− (7.412) patients. After meta-analysis on the three datasets (Italian, Scandinavian and Belgian) for the best associated signals resulted from the Italian GWAS, the strongest signal was a SNP (rs9320598) on chromosome 6q (p = 9.4×10−7) outside the HLA region (65 Mb).
genetic factors predispose to the development of OCB.
Deletion of one or more synapsin genes in mice results in a spontaneous epilepsy. In these animals, seizures can be evoked by opening or moving the cage. Aim of the present study was to characterize the evolution of the epileptic phenotype by neurophysiological examination and behavioral observation in synapsin triple knock-out (Syn-TKO) mice. Syn-TKO mice were studied from 20 postnatal days (PND) up to 6 months of age by video-EEG recording and behavioral observation. Background EEG spectral analysis was performed and data were compared to WT animals. Syn-TKO revealed rare spontaneous seizures and increased susceptibility to evoked seizures in mice from 60 to 100 PND. Spontaneous and evoked seizures presented similar duration and morphology. At times, seizures were followed by a post-ictal phase characterized by a 4 Hz rhythmic activity and immobility of the animal. Spectral analysis of background EEG evidenced a slowing of the theta-alpha peak in Syn-TKO mice compared to WT mice within the period from PND 40 to 100. These data indicate that Syn-TKO mice do not exhibit a linear progression of the epileptic phenotype, with the period corresponding to a higher susceptibility to evoked seizures characterized by background EEG slowing. This aspect might be connected to brain dysfunction often associated to epilepsy in the interictal period.
Syn-TKO, synapsin triple knock-out; PND, postnatal day; DSA, density spectral array; EEG, electroencephalography; EMG, electromyography; MDF, mean dominant frequency; FFT, fast Fourier transform; Synapsins; Epilepsy; Electroencephalography (EEG); Spectral analysis; C57BL/6 mice
Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells possess peculiar therapeutic plasticity and can simultaneously instruct several therapeutic mechanisms in addition to cell replacement. Here, we interrogated the therapeutic plasticity of neural stem/precursor cells after their focal implantation in the severely contused spinal cord. We injected syngeneic neural stem/precursor cells at the proximal and distal ends of the contused mouse spinal cord and analysed locomotor functions and relevant secondary pathological events in the mice, cell fate of transplanted neural stem/precursor cells, and gene expression and inflammatory cell infiltration at the injured site. We used two different doses of neural stem/precursor cells and two treatment schedules, either subacute (7 days) or early chronic (21 days) neural stem/precursor cell transplantation after the induction of experimental thoracic severe spinal cord injury. Only the subacute transplant of neural stem/precursor cells enhanced the recovery of locomotor functions of mice with spinal cord injury. Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells survived undifferentiated at the level of the peri-lesion environment and established contacts with endogenous phagocytes via cellular–junctional coupling. This was associated with significant modulation of the expression levels of important inflammatory cell transcripts in vivo. Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells skewed the inflammatory cell infiltrate at the injured site by reducing the proportion of ‘classically-activated’ (M1-like) macrophages, while promoting the healing of the injured cord. We here identify a precise window of opportunity for the treatment of complex spinal cord injuries with therapeutically plastic somatic stem cells, and suggest that neural stem/precursor cells have the ability to re-programme the local inflammatory cell microenvironment from a ‘hostile’ to an ‘instructive’ role, thus facilitating the healing or regeneration past the lesion.
neural stem cells; spinal cord injury; cell transplantation; macrophages; immune regulation; tissue healing
Chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) has been proposed as a “congenital malformation” implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, numerous studies failed to confirm its presence in MS patients. This paper presents the rationale, design, and methodology adopted in the CoSMo study, conducted with the aim of verifying whether or not CCSVI is linked to MS. The primary endpoint of the CoSMo study is to compare the prevalence of CCSVI in patients with MS versus patients affected by other neurodegenerative diseases (OND) and healthy volunteers. CoSMo is a multicenter, blinded, prevalence study recruiting 2,000 adult subjects, involving 43 MS centers across Italy. Assessment of the presence or absence of CCSVI is performed by color-coded duplex (CCD) sonography and two out of the five criteria according to Zamboni are necessary for the diagnosis of CCSVI. Local CCD examination carried out by a certified sonologist and the central image readings performed by experts in the field are blinded. An advanced protocol is also described in this paper. The application of a rigorous methodological design will definitively confirm whether an association exists between CCSVI and MS. Should an association be observed, this study also further examines the link between CCSVI and the severity of MS. The addition of subgroups without MS and OND also provides information on whether CCSVI is specific to MS only. Results from the CoSMo study will play a crucial role in the possible studies concerning the potential treatment of CCSVI in MS.
Multiple sclerosis; CCSVI; Color-coded duplex sonography; Observational; Multicenter; CoSMo
The role of biomarkers in predicting pathological findings in the frontotemporal dementia (FTD) clinical spectrum disorders is still being explored. We present comprehensive, prospective longitudinal data for a 66 year old, right-handed female who met current criteria for the nonfluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA). She first presented with a 3-year history of progressive speech and language impairment mainly characterized by severe apraxia of speech. Neuropsychological and general motor functions remained relatively spared throughout the clinical course. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) showed selective cortical atrophy of the left posterior inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and underlying insula that worsened over time, extending along the left premotor strip. Five years after her first evaluation, she developed mild memory impairment and underwent PET-FDG and PiB scans that showed left frontal hypometabolism and cortical amyloidosis. Three years later (11 years from first symptom), post-mortem histopathological evaluation revealed Pick’s disease, with severe degeneration of left IFG, mid-insula, and precentral gyrus. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (CERAD frequent / Braak Stage V) was also detected. This patient demonstrates that biomarkers indicating brain amyloidosis should not be considered conclusive evidence that AD pathology accounts for a typical FTD clinical/anatomical syndrome.
Nonfluent primary progressive aphasia; PPA; apraxia of speech; Voxel-based morphometry; PiB-PET; Pick’s disease; Alzheimer disease; Frontotemporal dementia
Background: A growing body of evidence suggests a link between cognitive and pathological changes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Cognitive deficits have been investigated much less extensively in primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) than in ALS.
Objective: To investigate bioelectrical activity to Stroop test, assessing frontal function, in ALS, PLS, and control groups.
Methods: Thirty-two non-demented ALS patients, 10 non-demented PLS patients, and 27 healthy subjects were included. Twenty-nine electroencephalography channels with binaural reference were recorded during covert Stroop task performance, involving mental discrimination of the stimuli and not vocal or motor response. Group effects on event-related potentials (ERPs) latency were analyzed using statistical multivariate analysis. Topographic analysis was performed using low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA).
Results: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients committed more errors in the execution of the task but they were not slower, whereas PLS patients did not show reduced accuracy, despite a slowing of reaction times (RTs). The main ERP components were delayed in ALS, but not in PLS, compared with controls. Moreover, RTs speed but not ERP latency correlated with clinical scores. ALS had decreased frontotemporal activity in the P2, P3, and N4 time windows compared to controls.
Conclusion: These findings suggest a different pattern of psychophysiological involvement in ALS compared with PLS. The former is increasingly recognized to be a multisystems disorder, with a spectrum of executive and behavioral impairments reflecting frontotemporal dysfunction. The latter seems to mainly involve the motor system, with largely spared cognitive functions. Moreover, our results suggest that the covert version of the Stroop task used in the present study, may be useful to assess cognitive state in the very advanced stage of the disease, when other cognitive tasks are not applicable.
ALS; PLS; cognitive impairment; ERP; Stroop task; executive function
Few studies have systematically addressed the role of epidural analgesia and caesarean delivery in predicting the post-partum disease activity in women with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of epidural analgesia (EA) and caesarean delivery (CD) on the risk of post-partum relapses and disability in women with MS.
In the context of an Italian prospective study on the safety of immunomodulators in pregnancy, we included pregnancies occurred between 2002 and 2008 in women with MS regularly followed-up in 21 Italian MS centers. Data were gathered through a standardized, semi-structured interview, dealing with pregnancy outcomes, breastfeeding, type of delivery (vaginal or caesarean) and EA. The risk of post-partum relapses and disability progression (1 point on the Expanded Disability Status Sclae, EDSS, point, confirmed after six months) was assessed through a logistic multivariate regression analysis.
We collected data on 423 pregnancies in 415 women. Among these, 349 pregnancies resulted in full term deliveries, with a post-partum follow-up of at least one year (mean follow-up period 5.5±3.1 years). One hundred and fifty-five patients (44.4%) underwent CD and 65 (18.5%) EA. In the multivariate analysis neither CD, nor EA were associated with a higher risk of post-partum relapses. Post-partum relapses were related to a higher EDSS score at conception (OR=1.42; 95% CI 1.11-1.82; p=0.005), a higher number of relapses in the year before pregnancy (OR=1.62; 95% CI 1.15-2.29; p=0.006) and during pregnancy (OR=3.07; 95% CI 1.40-6.72; p=0.005). Likewise, CD and EA were not associated with disability progression on the EDSS after delivery. The only significant predictor of disability progression was the occurrence of relapses in the year after delivery (disability progression in the year after delivery: OR= 4.00; 95% CI 2.0-8.2; p<0.001; disability progression over the whole follow-up period: OR= 2.0; 95% CI 1.2-3.3; p=0.005).
Our findings, show no correlation between EA, CD and postpartum relapses and disability. Therefore these procedures can safely be applied in MS patients. On the other hand, post-partum relapses are significantly associated with increased disability, which calls for the need of preventive therapies after delivery.
Epidural analgesia; Caesarean delivery; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy
The Italian region of Lombardy, with its existing stroke centers and high-technology laboratories, provides a favorable context for studying monogenic diseases associated with stroke. The Lombardia GENS project was set up to create a regional network for the diagnosis of six monogenic diseases associated with stroke: CADASIL, Fabry disease, MELAS, familial and sporadic hemiplegic migraine, hereditary cerebral amyloid angiopathy and Marfan syndrome. The network comprises 36 stroke centers and seven high-technology laboratories, performing molecular analysis. In this context, all stroke/TIA patients fulfilling clinical criteria for monogenic diseases are currently being included in an ongoing study. Demographic, clinical and family data and diagnostic criteria are collected using standardized forms. On the basis of stroke incidence in Lombardy and the reported prevalence of the diseases considered, we expect, during the course of the study, to collect datasets and DNA samples from more than 200 stroke patients suspected of having monogenic diseases. This will allow evaluation of the regional burden and better phenotype characterization of monogenic diseases associated with stroke.
cerebrovascular disease; genetics; monogenic disorders; stroke
Only few studies have assessed safety of in utero exposure to glatiramer acetate (GA). Following a previous study assessing the safety of interferon beta (IFNB) pregnancy exposure in multiple sclerosis (MS), we aimed to assess pregnancy and fetal outcomes after in utero exposure to GA, using the same dataset, with a specific focus on the risk of spontaneous abortion.
Materials and methods
We recruited MS patients, prospectively followed-up in 21 Italian MS Centres, for whom a pregnancy was recorded in the period 2002–2008. Patients were divided into 2 groups: drug-exposed pregnancies (EP: suspension of the drug less than 4 weeks from conception); non-exposed pregnancies (NEP: suspension of the drug at least 4 weeks from conception or never treated pregnancies). All the patients were administered a structured interview which gathered detailed information on pregnancy course and outcomes, as well as on possible confounders. Multivariate logistic and linear models were used for treatment comparisons.
Data on 423 pregnancies were collected, 17 were classified as EP to GA, 88 as EP to IFNB, 318 as NEP. Pregnancies resulted in 16 live births in the GA EP, 75 live births in the IFNB EP, 295 live births in the NEP. GA exposure was not significantly associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion (OR = 0.44;95% CI 0.044-4.51;p = 0.49). Mean birth weight and length were not significantly different in pregnancies exposed to GA than in non exposed pregnancies (p = 0.751). The frequency of preterm delivery, observed in 4 subjects exposed to GA (25% of full term deliveries), was not significantly higher in pregnancies exposed to GA than in those non exposed (p > 0.735). These findings were confirmed in the multivariate analysis. There were neither major complications nor malformations after GA exposure.
Data in our cohort show that mother’s GA exposure is not associated with a higher frequency of spontaneous abortion, neither other negative pregnancy and fetal outcomes. Our findings point to the safety of in utero GA exposure and can support neurologists in the therapeutic counselling of MS women planning a pregnancy.
Glatiramer acetate; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome; In utero exposure
The aim of this study was to perform a longitudinal assessment using Quantitative Muscle Testing (QMT) in a cohort of ambulant boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and to correlate the results of QMT with functional measures. This study is to date the most thorough long-term evaluation of QMT in a cohort of DMD patients correlated with other measures, such as the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) or thee 6-min walk test (6MWT).
This is a single centre, prospective, non-randomised, study assessing QMT using the Kin Com® 125 machine in a study cohort of 28 ambulant DMD boys, aged 5 to 12 years. This cohort was assessed longitudinally over a 12 months period of time with 3 monthly assessments for QMT and with assessment of functional abilities, using the NSAA and the 6MWT at baseline and at 12 months only. QMT was also used in a control group of 13 healthy age-matched boys examined at baseline and at 12 months.
There was an increase in QMT over 12 months in boys below the age of 7.5 years while in boys above the age of 7.5 years, QMT showed a significant decrease. All the average one-year changes were significantly different than those experienced by healthy controls. We also found a good correlation between quantitative tests and the other measures that was more obvious in the stronger children.
Our longitudinal data using QMT in a cohort of DMD patients suggest that this could be used as an additional tool to monitor changes, providing additional information on segmental strength.
The aim of this study was to explore the pattern of regional cortical thickness in patients with non-familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and to investigate whether cortical thinning is associated with disease progression rate. Cortical thickness analysis was performed in 44 ALS patients and 26 healthy controls. Group differences in cortical thickness and the age-by-group effects were assessed using vertex-by-vertex and multivariate linear models. The discriminatory ability of MRI variables in distinguishing patients from controls was estimated using the Concordance Statistics (C-statistic) within logistic regression analyses. Correlations between cortical thickness measures and disease progression rate were tested using the Pearson coefficient. Relative to controls, ALS patients showed a bilateral cortical thinning of the primary motor, prefrontal and ventral frontal cortices, cingulate gyrus, insula, superior and inferior temporal and parietal regions, and medial and lateral occipital areas. There was a significant age-by-group effect in the sensorimotor cortices bilaterally, suggesting a stronger association between age and cortical thinning in ALS patients compared to controls. The mean cortical thickness of the sensorimotor cortices distinguished patients with ALS from controls (C-statistic ≥0.74). Cortical thinning of the left sensorimotor cortices was related to a faster clinical progression (r = −0.33, p = 0.03). Cortical thickness measurements allowed the detection and quantification of motor and extramotor involvement in patients with ALS. Cortical thinning of the precentral gyrus might offer a marker of upper motor neuron involvement and disease progression.
Interferon-beta (IFNB) therapy for multiple sclerosis can lead to the induction of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against IFNB. Various methods are used for detection and quantification of NAbs.
Blood samples from 125 IFNB-1b–treated patients, which were tested NAb negative or NAb positive after conclusion of a clinical study, were retested three years after first being assessed in four different laboratories that offer routine NAb testing to practicing neurologists. The myxovirus protein A (MxA) induction assay, the cytopathic effect (CPE) assay (two laboratories), or the luciferase assay were used. Intra- and inter-laboratory agreement between assays with respect to NAb detection and NAb titer quantification were evaluated.
High agreement for NAb detection (kappa coefficient, 0.86) and for titer levels was observed for the intra-laboratory comparison in the laboratory using the MxA induction assay performed three years ago and now. A similarly high agreement for NAb detection (kappa coefficient, 0.87) and for titer quantification was noted for the MxA assay of this laboratory with one of two laboratories using the CPE assay. All other inter-laboratory comparisons showed kappa values between 0.57 and 0.68 and remarkable differences in individual titer levels.
There are considerable differences in the detection and quantification of IFNB-induced NAbs among laboratories offering NAb testing for clinical practice using different assay methods. It is important that these differences are considered when interpreting NAb results for clinical decision-making and when developing general recommendations for potentially clinically meaningful NAb titer levels.
Multiple sclerosis; Clinical trials randomized controlled; IFNB-1b; Interferon beta; Neutralizing antibodies; Round robin
Remodeling of extracellular matrix (ECM) is a critical step in peripheral nerve regeneration. In fact, in human neuropathies, endoneurial ECM enriched in fibrin and vitronectin associates with poor regeneration and worse clinical prognosis. Accordingly in animal models, modification of the fibrinolytic complex activity has profound effects on nerve regeneration: high fibrinolytic activity and low levels of fibrin correlate with better nerve regeneration. The urokinase plasminogen receptor (uPAR) is a major component of the fibrinolytic complex, and binding to urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) promotes fibrinolysis and cell movement. uPAR is expressed in peripheral nerves, however, little is known on its potential function on nerve development and regeneration. Thus, we investigated uPAR null mice and observed that uPAR is dispensable for nerve development, whereas, loss of uPAR affects nerve regeneration. uPAR null mice showed reduced nerve repair after sciatic nerve crush. This was a consequence of reduced fibrinolytic activity and increased deposition of endoneurial fibrin and vitronectin. Exogenous fibrinolysis in uPAR null mice rescued nerve repair after sciatic nerve crush. Finally, we measured the fibrinolytic activity in sural nerve biopsies from patients with peripheral neuropathies. We showed that neuropathies with defective regeneration had reduced fibrinolytic activity. On the contrary, neuropathies with signs of active regeneration displayed higher fibrinolytic activity. Overall, our results suggest that enforced fibrinolysis may facilitate regeneration and outcome of peripheral neuropathies.
Multiple sclerosis (OMIM 126200) is a common disease of the central nervous system in which the interplay between inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes typically results in intermittent neurological disturbance followed by progressive accumulation of disability.1 Epidemiological studies have shown that genetic factors are primarily responsible for the substantially increased frequency of the disease seen in the relatives of affected individuals;2,3 and systematic attempts to identify linkage in multiplex families have confirmed that variation within the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) exerts the greatest individual effect on risk.4 Modestly powered Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS)5-10 have enabled more than 20 additional risk loci to be identified and have shown that multiple variants exerting modest individual effects play a key role in disease susceptibility.11 Most of the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to the disease remains to be defined and is anticipated to require the analysis of sample sizes that are beyond the numbers currently available to individual research groups. In a collaborative GWAS involving 9772 cases of European descent collected by 23 research groups working in 15 different countries, we have replicated almost all of the previously suggested associations and identified at least a further 29 novel susceptibility loci. Within the MHC we have refined the identity of the DRB1 risk alleles and confirmed that variation in the HLA-A gene underlies the independent protective effect attributable to the Class I region. Immunologically relevant genes are significantly over-represented amongst those mapping close to the identified loci and particularly implicate T helper cell differentiation in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.
multiple sclerosis; GWAS; genetics