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author:("akiki, Bahia")
1.  A comparison of the brief international cognitive assessment for multiple sclerosis and the brief repeatable battery in multiple sclerosis patients 
BMC Neurology  2015;15:204.
Recently, a Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis (BICAMS) has been developed as an international and standardized brief cognitive test, which is easily performed in everyday clinical practice for neuropsychological assessment in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, we need to gather more information about this tool compared to other neuropsychological batteries. The aim of our study is to compare the performance of BICAMS and Brief Repeatable Battery (BRB) in MS subjects.
Tests of the BRB and BICAMS were administered to MS patients recruited from 11 Italian MS centres. Cognitive impairment (CI) was defined as the failure on at least two tests (scores below the fifth percentile) on the BRB and as the failure on at least one test of the BICAMS. The agreement between the performances on the two batteries was assessed through Cohen’s K statistic. Finally we calculated the effects sizes for each test of the two batteries using Cohen’s d.
The two batteries were administered to 192 MS patients (142 women, 50 men; mean age 41.4 ± 10.8 years, mean education 12.3 ± 3.5 years). Mean scores of patients were lower compared to those of healthy subjects in all the cognitive measures examined. Forty-six MS patients were identified as impaired and 48 as unimpaired on both of the batteries, when the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) was included in the analysis. Cohen’s K statistic was 0.46 which corresponds to a moderate accord. If the SDMT was excluded from the BRB, 37 MS patients were identified as impaired and 57 as unimpaired on both of the batteries. Cohen’s K statistic was 0.3 which corresponds to a poor accord. The SDMT, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) 3 and 2 yielded higher d values (SDMT 0.83, PASAT 3 0.65, PASAT 2 0.84).
This study confirms the feasibility of BICAMS in everyday clinical practice for the identification of CI and highlights the good psychometric properties of the SDMT.
PMCID: PMC4608308  PMID: 26472052
Multiple sclerosis; Assessment tool; Cognitive impairment; Brief international cognitive assessment for multiple sclerosis
2.  The brief international cognitive assessment for multiple sclerosis (BICAMS): normative values with gender, age and education corrections in the Italian population 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:171.
BICAMS (Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis) has been recently developed as brief, practical and universal assessment tool for cognitive impairment in MS subjects. It includes the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), the California Verbal Learning Test-2 (CVLT2) and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test–Revised (BVMT-R) . In this study we aimed at gathering regression based normative data for the BICAMS battery in the Italian population.
Healthy subjects were consecutively recruited among patient friends and relatives. Corrections for demographics were calculated using multivariable linear regression models. Test-retest reliability was assessed using the Pearson correlation coefficient.
The BICAMS battery was administered to 273 healthy subjects (180 women, mean age 38.9 ± 13.0 years, mean education 14.9 ± 3.0 years). Test-retest reliability was good for all the tests.
The study provided normative data of the BICAMS for the Italian population confirming good test-retest reliability which can facilitate the use of the battery in clinical practice, also for longitudinal patient assessments.
PMCID: PMC4172942  PMID: 25204350
Multiple sclerosis; Cognitive impairment; Assessment tool; Italian normative values
3.  Paternal therapy with disease modifying drugs in multiple sclerosis and pregnancy outcomes: a prospective observational multicentric study 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:114.
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.
PMCID: PMC4059028  PMID: 24884599
Multiple sclerosis; Paternity; Pregnancy; Interferon beta; Glatiramer acetate
4.  Epidural analgesia and cesarean delivery in multiple sclerosis post-partum relapses: the Italian cohort study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:165.
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.
PMCID: PMC3544735  PMID: 23276328
Epidural analgesia; Caesarean delivery; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy
5.  Relevance of Brain Lesion Location to Cognition in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e44826.
To assess the relationship between cognition and brain white matter (WM) lesion distribution and frequency in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RR MS).
MRI-based T2 lesion probability map (LPM) was used to assess the relevance of brain lesion location for cognitive impairment in a group of 142 consecutive patients with RRMS. Significance of voxelwise analyses was p<0.05, cluster-corrected for multiple comparisons. The Rao Brief Repeatable Battery was administered at the time of brain MRI to categorize the MS population into cognitively preserved (CP) and cognitively impaired (CI).
Out of 142 RRMS, 106 were classified as CP and 36 as CI. Although the CI group had greater WM lesion volume than the CP group (p = 0.001), T2 lesions tended to be less widespread across the WM. The peak of lesion frequency was almost twice higher in CI (61% in the forceps major) than in CP patients (37% in the posterior corona radiata). The voxelwise analysis confirmed that lesion frequency was higher in CI than in CP patients with significant bilateral clusters in the forceps major and in the splenium of the corpus callosum (p<0.05, corrected). Low scores of the Symbol Digit Modalities Test correlated with higher lesion frequency in these WM regions.
Overall these results suggest that in MS patients, areas relevant for cognition lie mostly in the commissural fiber tracts. This supports the notion of a functional (multiple) disconnection between grey matter structures, secondary to damage located in specific WM areas, as one of the most important mechanisms leading to cognitive impairment in MS.
PMCID: PMC3489883  PMID: 23144775
6.  Pregnancy and fetal outcomes after Glatiramer Acetate exposure in patients with multiple sclerosis: a prospective observational multicentric study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:124.
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.
PMCID: PMC3487812  PMID: 23088447
Glatiramer acetate; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome; In utero exposure
7.  Improving the Characterization of Radiologically Isolated Syndrome Suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19452.
To improve the characterization of asymptomatic subjects with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities highly suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition named as “radiologically isolated syndrome” (RIS).
Quantitative MRI metrics such as brain volumes and magnetization transfer (MT) were assessed in 19 subjects previously classified as RIS, 20 demographically-matched relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 20 healthy controls (HC). Specific measures were: white matter (WM) lesion volumes (LV), total and regional brain volumes, and MT ratio (MTr) in lesions, normal-appearing WM (NAWM) and cortex.
LV was similar in RIS and RRMS, without differences in distribution and frequency at lesion mapping. Brain volumes were similarly lower in RRMS and RIS than in HC (p<0.001). Lesional-MTr was lower in RRMS than in RIS (p = 0.048); NAWM-MTr and cortical-MTr were similar in RIS and HC and lower (p<0.01) in RRMS. These values were particularly lower in RRMS than in RIS in the sensorimotor and memory networks. A multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that 13/19 RIS had ≥70% probability of being classified as RRMS on the basis of their brain volume and lesional-MTr values.
Macroscopic brain damage was similar in RIS and RRMS. However, the subtle tissue damage detected by MTr was milder in RIS than in RRMS in clinically relevant brain regions, suggesting an explanation for the lack of clinical manifestations of subjects with RIS. This new approach could be useful for narrowing down the RIS individuals with a high risk of progression to MS.
PMCID: PMC3084867  PMID: 21559385

Results 1-7 (7)