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1.  Unmet Needs of People with Severe Multiple Sclerosis and Their Carers: Qualitative Findings for a Home-Based Intervention 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109679.
Background
Few data on services for people with severe multiple sclerosis (MS) are available. The Palliative Network for Severely Affected Adults with MS in Italy (PeNSAMI) developed a home palliative care program for MS patients and carers, preceded by a literature review and qualitative study (here reported).
Objective
To identify unmet needs of people with severe MS living at home by qualitative research involving key stakeholders, and theorize broad areas of intervention to meet those needs.
Method
Data were collected from: at least 10 personal interviews with adults with severe MS (primary/secondary progressive, EDSS≥8.0); three focus group meetings (FGs) of carers of people with severe MS; and two FGs of health professionals (HPs). Grounded theory guided the analysis of interview and FG transcripts, from which the areas of intervention were theorized.
Results
Between October 2012 and May 2013, 22 MS patients, 30 carers and 18 HPs participated. Forty-eight needs themes were identified, grouped into 14 categories and four domains. Seven, highly interdependent intervention areas were theorized. Patients had difficulties expressing needs; experiences of burden and loneliness were prominent, chiefly in dysfunctional, less affluent families, and among parent carers. Needs differed across Italy with requirements for information and access to services highest in the South. All participants voiced a strong need for qualified personnel and care coordination in day-to-day home care. Personal hygiene emerged as crucial, as did the need for a supportive network and preservation of patient/carer roles within family and community.
Conclusions
Unmet needs transcended medical issues and embraced organizational and psychosocial themes, as well as health policies. The high interdependence of the seven intervention areas theorized is in line with the multifaceted approach of palliative care. At variance with typical palliative contexts, coping with disability rather than end-of-life was a major concern of patients and carers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109679
PMCID: PMC4186842  PMID: 25286321
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(1):171.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/s12883-014-0171-6
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.
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
4.  Safety of the first dose of fingolimod for multiple sclerosis: results of an open-label clinical trial 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:65.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
Trial registration
EudraCT 2011-000770-60
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-65
PMCID: PMC4005629  PMID: 24690227
Atrioventricular block; Bradycardia; Multiple sclerosis; Fingolimod; Safety; Tolerability
5.  Risk-benefit considerations in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system and mainly affects young adults. Its natural history has changed in recent years with the advent of disease-modifying drugs, which have been available since the early 1990s. The increasing number of first-line and second-line treatment options, together with the variable course of the disease and patient lifestyles and expectations, makes the therapeutic decision a real challenge. The aim of this review is to give a comprehensive overview of the main present and some future drugs for relapsing-remitting MS, including risk-benefit considerations, to enable readers to draw their own conclusions regarding the risk-benefit assessment of personalized treatment strategies, taking into account not only treatment-related but also disease-related risks. We performed a Medline literature search to identify studies on the treatment of MS with risk stratification and risk-benefit considerations. We focused our attention on studies of disease-modifying, immunomodulating, and immunosuppressive drugs, including monoclonal antibodies. Here we offer personal considerations, stemming from long-term experience in the treatment of MS and thorough discussions with other neurologists closely involved in the care of patients with the disease. MS specialists need to know not only the specific risks and benefits of single drugs, but also about drug interactions, either in simultaneous or serial combination therapy, and patient comorbidities, preferences, and fears. This has to be put into perspective, considering also the risks of untreated disease in patients with different clinical and radiological characteristics. There is no single best treatment strategy, but therapy has to be tailored to the patient. This is a time-consuming task, rich in complexity, and influenced by the attitude towards risk on the parts of both the patient and the clinical team. The broader the MS drug market becomes, the harder it will be for the clinician to help the patient decide which therapeutic strategy to opt for.
doi:10.2147/NDT.S45144
PMCID: PMC3699254  PMID: 23836975
safety; efficacy; effectiveness; doctor-patient relationship; shared decision-making
6.  Persistence on Therapy and Propensity Matched Outcome Comparison of Two Subcutaneous Interferon Beta 1a Dosages for Multiple Sclerosis 
Kalincik, Tomas | Spelman, Timothy | Trojano, Maria | Duquette, Pierre | Izquierdo, Guillermo | Grammond, Pierre | Lugaresi, Alessandra | Hupperts, Raymond | Cristiano, Edgardo | Van Pesch, Vincent | Grand’Maison, Francois | La Spitaleri, Daniele | Rio, Maria Edite | Flechter, Sholmo | Oreja-Guevara, Celia | Giuliani, Giorgio | Savino, Aldo | Amato, Maria Pia | Petersen, Thor | Fernandez-Bolanos, Ricardo | Bergamaschi, Roberto | Iuliano, Gerardo | Boz, Cavit | Lechner-Scott, Jeannette | Deri, Norma | Gray, Orla | Verheul, Freek | Fiol, Marcela | Barnett, Michael | van Munster, Erik | Santiago, Vetere | Moore, Fraser | Slee, Mark | Saladino, Maria Laura | Alroughani, Raed | Shaw, Cameron | Kasa, Krisztian | Petkovska-Boskova, Tatjana | den Braber-Moerland, Leontien | Chapman, Joab | Skromne, Eli | Herbert, Joseph | Poehlau, Dieter | Needham, Merrilee | Bacile, Elizabeth Alejandra Bacile | Arruda, Walter Oleschko | Paine, Mark | Singhal, Bhim | Vucic, Steve | Cabrera-Gomez, Jose Antonio | Butzkueven, Helmut | Roger, Elaine | Despault, Pierre | Marriott, Mark | Van der Walt, Anneke | King, John | Kilpatrick, Trevor | Buzzard, Katherine | Jokubaitis, Vilija | Byron, Jill | Morgan, Lisa | Skibina, Olga | Haartsen, Jodi | De Luca, Giovanna | Di Tommaso, Valeria | Travaglini, Daniela | Pietrolongo, Erika | di Ioia, Maria | Farina, Deborah | Mancinelli, Luca | Paolicelli, Damiano | Iaffaldano, Pietro | Ignacio Rojas, Juan | Patrucco, Liliana | Roullet, Etienne | Correale, Jorge | Ysrraelit, Celica | Elisabetta, Cartechini | Pucci, Eugenio | Williams, David | Dark, Lisa | Shaygannejad, Vahid | Zwanikken, Cees | Vella, Norbert | Sirbu, Carmen-Adella
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63480.
Objectives
To compare treatment persistence between two dosages of interferon β-1a in a large observational multiple sclerosis registry and assess disease outcomes of first line MS treatment at these dosages using propensity scoring to adjust for baseline imbalance in disease characteristics.
Methods
Treatment discontinuations were evaluated in all patients within the MSBase registry who commenced interferon β-1a SC thrice weekly (n = 4678). Furthermore, we assessed 2-year clinical outcomes in 1220 patients treated with interferon β-1a in either dosage (22 µg or 44 µg) as their first disease modifying agent, matched on propensity score calculated from pre-treatment demographic and clinical variables. A subgroup analysis was performed on 456 matched patients who also had baseline MRI variables recorded.
Results
Overall, 4054 treatment discontinuations were recorded in 3059 patients. The patients receiving the lower interferon dosage were more likely to discontinue treatment than those with the higher dosage (25% vs. 20% annual probability of discontinuation, respectively). This was seen in discontinuations with reasons recorded as “lack of efficacy” (3.3% vs. 1.7%), “scheduled stop” (2.2% vs. 1.3%) or without the reason recorded (16.7% vs. 13.3% annual discontinuation rate, 22 µg vs. 44 µg dosage, respectively). Propensity score was determined by treating centre and disability (score without MRI parameters) or centre, sex and number of contrast-enhancing lesions (score including MRI parameters). No differences in clinical outcomes at two years (relapse rate, time relapse-free and disability) were observed between the matched patients treated with either of the interferon dosages.
Conclusions
Treatment discontinuations were more common in interferon β-1a 22 µg SC thrice weekly. However, 2-year clinical outcomes did not differ between patients receiving the different dosages, thus replicating in a registry dataset derived from “real-world” database the results of the pivotal randomised trial. Propensity score matching effectively minimised baseline covariate imbalance between two directly compared sub-populations from a large observational registry.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063480
PMCID: PMC3660604  PMID: 23704913
7.  Decision-Making in Multiple Sclerosis Consultations in Italy: Third Observer and Patient Assessments 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60721.
Objective
To assess decision-making in multiple sclerosis (MS) from third observer and patient perspectives.
Method
Audio recordings of first-ever consultations with a participating physician (88 outpatients, 10 physicians) at four tertiary MS care clinics in Italy, were rated by a third observer using the Observing Patient Involvement in Shared Decision Making (OPTION) and by patients using the Perceived Involvement in Care Scale (PICS).
Results
Mean patient age was 37.5, 66% were women, 72% had MS, and 28% had possible MS or other disease. Mean PICS subscale scores (range 0 poor, 100 best possible) were 71.9 (SD 24.3) for "physician facilitation" (PICS-F); 74.6 (SD 22.9) for "patient information exchange" (PICS-I); and only 22.5 (SD 16.2) for "patient decision making" (PICS-DM). Mean OPTION total score (0 poor, 100 best possible) was 29.6 (SD 10.3). Poorest OPTION scores were found for items assessing “preferred patient approach to receiving information” and “preferred patient level of involvement.” Highest scores were for “clinician drawing attention to identified problem”, “indicating need for decision making,” and “need to review the decision.” Consultation time, woman physician, patient-physician gender concordance and PICS-F were associated with higher OPTION total score; older physician and second opinion consultation were associated with lower OPTION score.
Conclusions
In line with findings in other settings, our third observer findings indicated limited patient involvement abilities of MS physicians during first consultations. Patient perceptions of physician skills were better than third observers’, although they correlated. Consultations with women physicians, and younger physicians, were associated with higher third observer and patient-based scores. Our findings reveal a need to empower Italian MS physicians with better communication and shared decision-making skills, and show in particular that attention to MS patient preferences for reception of information and involvement in health decisions, need to be improved.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060721
PMCID: PMC3614559  PMID: 23565270
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Country, Sex, EDSS Change and Therapy Choice Independently Predict Treatment Discontinuation in Multiple Sclerosis and Clinically Isolated Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38661.
Objectives
We conducted a prospective study, MSBASIS, to assess factors leading to first treatment discontinuation in patients with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Methods
The MSBASIS Study, conducted by MSBase Study Group members, enrols patients seen from CIS onset, reporting baseline demographics, cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) features and Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores. Follow-up visits report relapses, EDSS scores, and the start and end dates of MS-specific therapies. We performed a multivariable survival analysis to determine factors within this dataset that predict first treatment discontinuation.
Results
A total of 2314 CIS patients from 44 centres were followed for a median of 2.7 years, during which time 1247 commenced immunomodulatory drug (IMD) treatment. Ninety percent initiated IMD after a diagnosis of MS was confirmed, and 10% while still in CIS status. Over 40% of these patients stopped their first IMD during the observation period. Females were more likely to cease medication than males (HR 1.36, p = 0.003). Patients treated in Australia were twice as likely to cease their first IMD than patients treated in Spain (HR 1.98, p = 0.001). Increasing EDSS was associated with higher rate of IMD cessation (HR 1.21 per EDSS unit, p<0.001), and intramuscular interferon-β-1a (HR 1.38, p = 0.028) and subcutaneous interferon-β-1a (HR 1.45, p = 0.012) had higher rates of discontinuation than glatiramer acetate, although this varied widely in different countries. Onset cerebral MRI features, age, time to treatment initiation or relapse on treatment were not associated with IMD cessation.
Conclusion
In this multivariable survival analysis, female sex, country of residence, EDSS change and IMD choice independently predicted time to first IMD cessation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038661
PMCID: PMC3387159  PMID: 22768046
11.  Patient adherence to and tolerability of self-administered interferon β-1a using an electronic autoinjection device: a multicentre, open-label, phase IV study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:7.
Background
Achieving good adherence to self-injected treatments for multiple sclerosis can be difficult. Injection devices may help to overcome some of the injection-related barriers to adherence that can be experienced by patients. We sought to assess short-term adherence to, and tolerability of, interferon (IFN) β-1a administered via electronic autoinjection device in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Methods
BRIDGE (RebiSmart to self-inject Rebif serum-free formulation in a multidose cartridge) was a 12-week, multicentre, open-label, single-arm, observational, Phase IV study in which patients self-administered IFN β-1a (titrated to 44 μg), subcutaneously (sc), three times weekly, via electronic autoinjection device. Patients were assessed at baseline and 4-weekly intervals to Week 12 or early termination (ET) for: physical examinations; diary card completion (baseline, Weeks 4, 8 only); neurological examinations (baseline, Week 12/ET only); MS Treatment Concern Questionnaire (MSTCQ; Weeks 4, 8, 12 only); Convenience Questionnaire (Week 12 only); Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT; baseline only). Adherence was defined as administration of ≥ 80% of scheduled injections, recorded by the autoinjection device.
Results
Overall, 88.2% (105/119; intent-to-treat population) of patients were adherent; 67.2% (80/119) administered all scheduled injections. Medical reasons accounted for 35.6% (31/87) of missed injections, forgetfulness for 20.6% (18/87). Adherence did not correlate with baseline Expanded Disability Status Scale (P = 0.821) or PASAT (P = 0.952) scores, or pre-study therapy (P = 0.303). No significant changes (baseline-Week 12) in mean HADS depression (P = 0.482) or anxiety (P = 0.156) scores were observed. 'Overall convenience' was the most important reported benefit of the autoinjection device. Device features associated with handling and ease of use were highly rated. Mean MSTCQ scores for 'flu-like' symptoms (P = 0.022) and global side effects (P = 0.002) significantly improved from Week 4-12. Mean MSTCQ scores for pain at injection site and injection pain increased from Week 4-12 (P < 0.001). Adverse events were mild/moderate. No new safety signals were identified.
Conclusion
Convenience and ease of use of the autoinjection device may improve adherence and, therefore, outcomes, in patients with RRMS receiving sc IFN β-1a.
Trial registration
EU Clinical Trials Register (EU-CTR; http://www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu): 2009-013333-24
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-7
PMCID: PMC3368780  PMID: 22390218
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; IFN beta; Medication adherence; Drug delivery systems; Self administration
12.  Improving patient–physician dialog: commentary on the results of the MS Choices survey 
Achieving good long- and short-term adherence to treatment for chronic diseases is important if patients are to gain the full benefits of treatment. Several barriers to adherence in multiple sclerosis (MS) have been identified and the healthcare team should work with patients to help them to overcome these obstacles. The MS Choices survey explored patient and physician perspectives on key aspects of MS diagnosis, treatment adherence, and disease management with the aim of improving understanding of the factors that influence patient behavior regarding treatment adherence. The survey found some important differences between patient and physician responses and here these findings are discussed in the context of personal clinical experience. Further, the possible implications of these findings for routine practice have been considered, and strategies that should be employed by MS physicians and nurses to help patients to adhere to their prescribed treatment are suggested.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S27932
PMCID: PMC3287418  PMID: 22379365
multiple sclerosis; treatment adherence; treatment initiation; patient-physician dialog; psychological profiling
13.  Relation between Pro-inflammatory Cytokines and Acetylcholine Levels in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory, demyelinating and neurodegenerative disorder. Since acetylcholine (ACh) is known to participate in the inflammatory response, we investigated the possible relationship between pro-inflammatory cytokines and acetylcholine levels in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RR-MS) patients. Levels of ACh and pro-inflammatory cytokines IL1-β and IL-17 were measured both in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and sera of 22 RR-MS patients in the relapsing phase and in 17 control subjects affected by other non-neurological diseases (OND). We observed higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-17 in both CSF and serum of RR-MS patients compared to control subjects. Moreover, ACh levels were lower in CSF and serum of RR-MS patients compared to levels of control subjects. Although the relationship between high inflammatory cytokine levels and low ACh levels need to be further investigated in the future, our data suggest that IL-1β, and cytokines induced by it, such as IL-17 and ACh, may be involved in the pathogenesis of MS.
doi:10.3390/ijms131012656
PMCID: PMC3497293  PMID: 23202919
acetylcholine; pro-inflammatory cytokines; multiple sclerosis
14.  Neopterin production and tryptophan degradation during 24-months therapy with interferon beta-1a in multiple sclerosis patients 
Background
Increased synthesis of neopterin and degradation of tryptophan to kynurenine, measured as kynurenine/tryptophan ratio (kyn/trp ratio), are considered in vitro markers of interferon beta-1a (IFNβ-1a) activity. The aim of the study was to investigate the dynamic profile of neopterin and kyn/trp ratio in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) treated with two different doses of IFNβ-1a over a period of 24 months.
Methods
RRMS patients (n = 101) received open-label IFNβ-1a 22 mcg (low dose, LD) or 44 mcg (high dose, HD) subcutaneously (sc), three times weekly for 24 months. Serum measurements of neopterin, kyn/trp ratio and neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) were obtained before treatment (i.e., at baseline) and 48 hours post-injection every 3 months thereafter. Clinical assessments were performed at baseline and every 6 months. Changes in biomarkers over time were compared between LD- and HD-group as well as between patients with/without relapses and with/without NAbs using Analysis of Variance and Mann-Whitney tests.
Results
Neopterin (p < 0.001) and kyn/trp ratio (p = 0.0013) values increased over time vs baseline in both treatment groups. Neopterin values were higher (p = 0.046) in the HD-compared to the LD-group at every time point with the exclusion of months 21 and 24 of therapy. Conversely, there were no differences between the two doses groups in the kyn/trp ratio with the exclusion of month 6 of therapy (p < 0.05). Neopterin levels were significantly reduced in NAb-positive patients starting from month 9 of therapy (p < 0.05); the same result was observed for kyn/trp ratio but only at month 9 (p = 0.02). Clinical status did not significantly affect neopterin production and tryptophan degradation.
Conclusions
Although differences in serum markers concentration were found following IFNβ administration the clinical relevance of these findings needs to be confirmed with more detailed studies.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-9-42
PMCID: PMC3102623  PMID: 21501517
15.  Patient-rated suitability of a novel electronic device for self-injection of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a in relapsing multiple sclerosis: an international, single-arm, multicentre, Phase IIIb study 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:28.
Background
Multiple sclerosis (MS) currently requires long-term treatment with disease-modifying drugs, administered parenterally up to once daily. The need for regular self-injection can be a barrier to treatment for many patients. Autoinjectors can help patients overcome problems or concerns with self-injection and could, therefore, improve treatment adherence. This study was performed to assess the suitability of a new electronic device for the subcutaneous (sc) administration of interferon (IFN) beta-1a, 44 mcg three times weekly, for relapsing MS.
Methods
In this Phase IIIb, multicentre, single-arm study, patients with relapsing MS who had been consistently self-injecting sc IFN beta-1a using an autoinjector for at least 6 weeks were taught to use the new device and self-administered treatment for 12 weeks thereafter. Patient-rated suitability of the device was assessed at the end of Week 12 using the Patient User Trial Questionnaire. Patient satisfaction with, and evaluation of, the injection process was assessed using the MS Treatment Concern Questionnaire. Trainers evaluated the device using the Trainer User Trial Questionnaire.
Results
At Week 12, 71.6% (73/102) of patients considered the device 'very suitable' or 'suitable' for self-injection; 92.2% (94/102) reported some degree of suitability and only 7.8% (8/102) found the device 'not at all suitable'. At Weeks 4, 8 and 12, most patients reported that injection preparation and clean-up, performing injections and ease of device use in the previous 4 weeks compared favourably with, or was equivalent to, their previous experience of self-injection. Injection-related pain, injection reactions and 'flu-like' symptoms remained stable over the 12 weeks. Each device feature was rated 'very useful' or 'useful' by at least 80% of patients. All trainers and 95.2% (99/104) of patients found device functions 'very easy' or 'easy' to use. Overall convenience was considered the most important benefit of the device.
Conclusions
Most patients considered the new electronic injection device suitable for the sc injection of IFN beta-1a. They found the device easy to use with useful features, and reported benefits such as overall convenience. The device may, therefore, increase treatment adherence in patients with MS, particularly those with injection-related issues.
Trial registration
NCT00735007
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-28
PMCID: PMC2877661  PMID: 20433746

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