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1.  Paternal therapy with disease modifying drugs in multiple sclerosis and pregnancy outcomes: a prospective observational multicentric study 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:114.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-114
PMCID: PMC4059028  PMID: 24884599
Multiple sclerosis; Paternity; Pregnancy; Interferon beta; Glatiramer acetate
2.  MxA mRNA Quantification and Disability Progression in Interferon Beta-Treated Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94794.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094794
PMCID: PMC3986392  PMID: 24733382
3.  International Pediatric MS Study Group Clinical Trials Summit 
Neurology  2013;80(12):1161-1168.
Objective:
Pediatric studies for new biological agents are mandated by recent legislation, necessitating careful thought to evaluation of emerging multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies in children with MS. Challenges include a small patient population, the lack of prior randomized clinical trials, and ethical concerns. The goal of this meeting was to assess areas of consensus regarding clinical trial design and outcome measures among academic experts involved in pediatric MS care and research.
Methods:
The Steering Committee of the International Pediatric MS Study Group identified key focus areas for discussion. A total of 69 meeting attendees were assembled, including 35 academic experts. Regulatory and pharmaceutical representatives also attended, and provided input, which informed academic expert consensus decisions.
Results:
The academic experts agreed that clinical trials were necessary in pediatric MS to obtain pharmacokinetic, safety and efficacy data, and regulatory approval allowing for greater medication access. The academic experts agreed that relapse was an appropriate primary outcome measure for phase III pediatric trials. An international standardized cognitive battery was identified. The pros and cons of various trial designs were discussed. Guidelines surrounding MRI studies, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and registries were developed. The academic experts agreed that given the limited subject pool, a stepwise approach to the launch of clinical trials for the most promising medications is necessary in order to ensure study completion. Alternative approaches could result in unethical exposure of patients to trial conditions without gaining knowledge.
Conclusion:
Consensus points for conduct of clinical trials in the rare disease pediatric MS were identified amongst a panel of academic experts, informed by regulatory and industry stakeholders.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318288694e
PMCID: PMC3662305  PMID: 23509048
4.  Italian multicentre observational study of the prevalence of CCSVI in multiple sclerosis (CoSMo study): rationale, design, and methodology 
Neurological Sciences  2013;34(8):1297-1307.
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.
doi:10.1007/s10072-012-1269-5
PMCID: PMC3747324  PMID: 23344741
Multiple sclerosis; CCSVI; Color-coded duplex sonography; Observational; Multicenter; CoSMo
5.  Epidural analgesia and cesarean delivery in multiple sclerosis post-partum relapses: the Italian cohort study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:165.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-165
PMCID: PMC3544735  PMID: 23276328
Epidural analgesia; Caesarean delivery; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy
6.  Pregnancy and fetal outcomes after Glatiramer Acetate exposure in patients with multiple sclerosis: a prospective observational multicentric study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:124.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-124
PMCID: PMC3487812  PMID: 23088447
Glatiramer acetate; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome; In utero exposure
7.  Genetic risk and a primary role for cell-mediated immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis 
Sawcer, Stephen | Hellenthal, Garrett | Pirinen, Matti | Spencer, Chris C.A. | Patsopoulos, Nikolaos A. | Moutsianas, Loukas | Dilthey, Alexander | Su, Zhan | Freeman, Colin | Hunt, Sarah E. | Edkins, Sarah | Gray, Emma | Booth, David R. | Potter, Simon C. | Goris, An | Band, Gavin | Oturai, Annette Bang | Strange, Amy | Saarela, Janna | Bellenguez, Céline | Fontaine, Bertrand | Gillman, Matthew | Hemmer, Bernhard | Gwilliam, Rhian | Zipp, Frauke | Jayakumar, Alagurevathi | Martin, Roland | Leslie, Stephen | Hawkins, Stanley | Giannoulatou, Eleni | D’alfonso, Sandra | Blackburn, Hannah | Boneschi, Filippo Martinelli | Liddle, Jennifer | Harbo, Hanne F. | Perez, Marc L. | Spurkland, Anne | Waller, Matthew J | Mycko, Marcin P. | Ricketts, Michelle | Comabella, Manuel | Hammond, Naomi | Kockum, Ingrid | McCann, Owen T. | Ban, Maria | Whittaker, Pamela | Kemppinen, Anu | Weston, Paul | Hawkins, Clive | Widaa, Sara | Zajicek, John | Dronov, Serge | Robertson, Neil | Bumpstead, Suzannah J. | Barcellos, Lisa F. | Ravindrarajah, Rathi | Abraham, Roby | Alfredsson, Lars | Ardlie, Kristin | Aubin, Cristin | Baker, Amie | Baker, Katharine | Baranzini, Sergio E. | Bergamaschi, Laura | Bergamaschi, Roberto | Bernstein, Allan | Berthele, Achim | Boggild, Mike | Bradfield, Jonathan P. | Brassat, David | Broadley, Simon A. | Buck, Dorothea | Butzkueven, Helmut | Capra, Ruggero | Carroll, William M. | Cavalla, Paola | Celius, Elisabeth G. | Cepok, Sabine | Chiavacci, Rosetta | Clerget-Darpoux, Françoise | Clysters, Katleen | Comi, Giancarlo | Cossburn, Mark | Cournu-Rebeix, Isabelle | Cox, Mathew B. | Cozen, Wendy | Cree, Bruce A.C. | Cross, Anne H. | Cusi, Daniele | Daly, Mark J. | Davis, Emma | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Debouverie, Marc | D’hooghe, Marie Beatrice | Dixon, Katherine | Dobosi, Rita | Dubois, Bénédicte | Ellinghaus, David | Elovaara, Irina | Esposito, Federica | Fontenille, Claire | Foote, Simon | Franke, Andre | Galimberti, Daniela | Ghezzi, Angelo | Glessner, Joseph | Gomez, Refujia | Gout, Olivier | Graham, Colin | Grant, Struan F.A. | Guerini, Franca Rosa | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hall, Per | Hamsten, Anders | Hartung, Hans-Peter | Heard, Rob N. | Heath, Simon | Hobart, Jeremy | Hoshi, Muna | Infante-Duarte, Carmen | Ingram, Gillian | Ingram, Wendy | Islam, Talat | Jagodic, Maja | Kabesch, Michael | Kermode, Allan G. | Kilpatrick, Trevor J. | Kim, Cecilia | Klopp, Norman | Koivisto, Keijo | Larsson, Malin | Lathrop, Mark | Lechner-Scott, Jeannette S. | Leone, Maurizio A. | Leppä, Virpi | Liljedahl, Ulrika | Bomfim, Izaura Lima | Lincoln, Robin R. | Link, Jenny | Liu, Jianjun | Lorentzen, Åslaug R. | Lupoli, Sara | Macciardi, Fabio | Mack, Thomas | Marriott, Mark | Martinelli, Vittorio | Mason, Deborah | McCauley, Jacob L. | Mentch, Frank | Mero, Inger-Lise | Mihalova, Tania | Montalban, Xavier | Mottershead, John | Myhr, Kjell-Morten | Naldi, Paola | Ollier, William | Page, Alison | Palotie, Aarno | Pelletier, Jean | Piccio, Laura | Pickersgill, Trevor | Piehl, Fredrik | Pobywajlo, Susan | Quach, Hong L. | Ramsay, Patricia P. | Reunanen, Mauri | Reynolds, Richard | Rioux, John D. | Rodegher, Mariaemma | Roesner, Sabine | Rubio, Justin P. | Rückert, Ina-Maria | Salvetti, Marco | Salvi, Erika | Santaniello, Adam | Schaefer, Catherine A. | Schreiber, Stefan | Schulze, Christian | Scott, Rodney J. | Sellebjerg, Finn | Selmaj, Krzysztof W. | Sexton, David | Shen, Ling | Simms-Acuna, Brigid | Skidmore, Sheila | Sleiman, Patrick M.A. | Smestad, Cathrine | Sørensen, Per Soelberg | Søndergaard, Helle Bach | Stankovich, Jim | Strange, Richard C. | Sulonen, Anna-Maija | Sundqvist, Emilie | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taddeo, Francesca | Taylor, Bruce | Blackwell, Jenefer M. | Tienari, Pentti | Bramon, Elvira | Tourbah, Ayman | Brown, Matthew A. | Tronczynska, Ewa | Casas, Juan P. | Tubridy, Niall | Corvin, Aiden | Vickery, Jane | Jankowski, Janusz | Villoslada, Pablo | Markus, Hugh S. | Wang, Kai | Mathew, Christopher G. | Wason, James | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Wichmann, H-Erich | Plomin, Robert | Willoughby, Ernest | Rautanen, Anna | Winkelmann, Juliane | Wittig, Michael | Trembath, Richard C. | Yaouanq, Jacqueline | Viswanathan, Ananth C. | Zhang, Haitao | Wood, Nicholas W. | Zuvich, Rebecca | Deloukas, Panos | Langford, Cordelia | Duncanson, Audrey | Oksenberg, Jorge R. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Haines, Jonathan L. | Olsson, Tomas | Hillert, Jan | Ivinson, Adrian J. | De Jager, Philip L. | Peltonen, Leena | Stewart, Graeme J. | Hafler, David A. | Hauser, Stephen L. | McVean, Gil | Donnelly, Peter | Compston, Alastair
Nature  2011;476(7359):214-219.
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.
doi:10.1038/nature10251
PMCID: PMC3182531  PMID: 21833088
multiple sclerosis; GWAS; genetics
8.  Therapeutic strategies in childhood multiple sclerosis 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) in children and adolescents accounts for 3–10% of the whole MS population, and is characterized by a relapsing course in almost all cases. The frequency of relapses is higher than in adult onset MS, at least in the first years of evolution. The objective of treatment is to speed the recovery after a relapse, to prevent the occurrence of relapses, and to prevent disease progression and neurodegeneration. The use of drugs for MS in children and adolescents has not been studied in clinical trials, so their use is mainly based on results from trials in adults and from observational studies. There is a consensus to treat acute relapses with intravenous high-dose corticosteroids. The possibility of preventing relapses and disease progression is based on the use of immunomodulatory agents. Interferon-beta (IFNB) and glatiramer acetate (GA) have been demonstrated to be safe and well tolerated in pediatric MS patients, and also to reduce relapse rate and disease progression. Cyclophosphamide and natalizumab could be offered as second-line treatment in patients with a poor response to IFNB or GA. New oral and injectable drugs will be available in the near future: if safe and well tolerated in the long-term follow up of adults with MS, they could be tested in the pediatric MS population.
doi:10.1177/1756285610371251
PMCID: PMC3002659  PMID: 21179613
adolescence; childhood; cyclophosphamide; glatiramer acetate; interferon beta; intravenous immunoglobulin; intravenous methylprednisolone; mitoxantrone; multiple sclerosis; natalizumab

Results 1-8 (8)