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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.  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
3.  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
4.  Geographical Variations in Sex Ratio Trends over Time in Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48078.
Background
A female/male (F/M) ratio increase over time in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients was demonstrated in many countries around the world. So far, a direct comparison of sex ratio time-trends among MS populations from different geographical areas was not carried out.
Objective
In this paper we assessed and compared sex ratio trends, over a 60-year span, in MS populations belonging to different latitudinal areas.
Methods
Data of a cohort of 15,996 (F = 11,290; M = 4,706) definite MS with birth years ranging from 1930 to 1989 were extracted from the international MSBase registry and the New Zealand MS database. Gender ratios were calculated by six decades based on year of birth and were adjusted for the F/M born-alive ratio derived from the respective national registries of births.
Results
Adjusted sex ratios showed a significant increase from the first to the last decade in the whole MS sample (from 2.35 to 2.73; p = 0.03) and in the subgroups belonging to the areas between 83° N and 45° N (from 1.93 to 4.55; p<0.0001) and between 45° N to 35° N (from 1.46 to 2.30; p<0.05) latitude, while a sex ratio stability over time was found in the subgroup from areas between 12° S and 55° S latitude. The sex ratio increase mainly affected relapsing-remitting (RR) MS.
Conclusions
Our results confirm a general sex ratio increase over time in RRMS and also demonstrate a latitudinal gradient of this increase. These findings add useful information for planning case-control studies aimed to explore sex-related factors responsible for MS development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048078
PMCID: PMC3485003  PMID: 23133550
5.  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
6.  Low Serum Urate Levels Are Associated to Female Gender in Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40608.
Background
Urate is a natural antioxidant and may prevent CNS tissue damage and the clinical manifestations of experimental autoimmune encephalitis. Results from clinical studies are conflicting and the contribution of urate to the pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) remains uncertain.
Objective
To evaluate serum urate levels in MS patients and their relationships with clinical, demographic and MRI variables.
Methods
Levels of non-fasting serum uric acid and creatinine were determined by an automated enzymatic assay and glomerular filtration rate was assessed in 245 MS patients, in 252 age/sex-matched neurological controls (NC) and in 59 Healthy controls (HC).
Results
Median serum urate levels did not differ between MS patients (3.8 mg/dL), HC (4.0 mg/dl) and NC (4.0 mg/dL). Serum urate levels were lower in females than in males in all groups (p = <0.0001). In female-MS, serum urate levels (3.2 mg/dL) were lower compared to those in female HC (3.8; p = 0.01) and NC (3.5 mg/dL; p = 0.02), whereas in male-MS they(4.8 mg/dL) did not differ from those in male HC (4.5 mg/dl) and NC (4.8 mg/dL). Urate concentrations trended to be lower in Clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS (3.7 mg/dL) and in relapsing MS (3.7 mg/dL), compared to patients with progressive MS (4.4 mg/dL; p = 0.06), and in patients with an annual relapse rate (ARR) >2 (3.3 mg/dL) than in those with an ARR ≤2: 3.9 mg/dL; p = 0.05). Significant lower serum urate levels were found in females than in males in all clinical MS subtypes (p<0.01), separately evaluated. Female sex (beta: −0.53; p<0.00001) was the most significant determinant of serum urate concentrations in MS patients on multivariate regression analysis.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that low urate levels could be of significance in predominantly inflammatory phases of MS even at the early stage and mainly in females.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040608
PMCID: PMC3407193  PMID: 22848387
7.  Impact of Natalizumab on Cognitive Performances and Fatigue in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis: A Prospective, Open-Label, Two Years Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35843.
Background and Objectives
Natalizumab reduces the relapse rate and magnetic resonance imaging activity in patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). So far the influence of natalizumab on cognitive functions and fatigue in MS remains uncertain. The aim of this prospective, open-label, observational study was to evaluate the possible effects of natalizumab on cognition and fatigue measures in RRMS patients treated for up to two years.
Methods
Cognitive performances were examined by the Rao's Brief Repeatable Battery (BRB), the Stroop test (ST) and the Cognitive Impairment Index (CII), every 12 months. Patients who failed in at least 3 tests of the BRB and the ST were classified as cognitively impaired (CI). Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) was administered every 12 months to assess patient's self-reported fatigue. One hundred and 53 patients completed 1 and 2 year-natalizumab treatment, respectively.
Results
After 1 year of treatment the percentage of CI patients decreased from 29% (29/100) at baseline to 19% (19/100) (p = 0.031) and the mean baseline values of CII (13.52±6.85) and FSS (4.01±1.63) scores were significantly reduced (10.48±7.12, p<0.0001 and 3.61±1.56, p = 0.008). These significant effects were confirmed in the subgroup of patients treated up to two years.
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that a short-term NTZ treatment may significantly improve cognitive performances and fatigue in RRMS patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035843
PMCID: PMC3338465  PMID: 22558238
8.  Early prediction of the long term evolution of multiple sclerosis: the Bayesian Risk Estimate for Multiple Sclerosis (BREMS) score 
Aim
To propose a simple tool for early prediction of unfavourable long term evolution of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Methods
A Bayesian model allowed us to calculate, within the first year of disease and for each patient, the Bayesian Risk Estimate for MS (BREMS) score that represents the risk of reaching secondary progression (SP).
Results
The median BREMS scores were higher in 158 patients who reached SP within 10 years compared with 1087 progression free patients (0.69 vs 0.30; p<0.0001). The BREMS value was related to SP risk in the whole cohort (p<0.0001) and in the subgroup of 535 patients who had never been treated with immune therapies, thus reasonably representing the natural history of the disease (p<0.000001).
Conclusions
The BREMS score may be useful both to identify patients who are candidates for early or for more aggressive therapies and to improve the design and analysis of clinical therapeutic trials and of observational studies.
doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.107052
PMCID: PMC2117665  PMID: 17220286
9.  Review of interferon beta-1b in the treatment of early and relapsing multiple sclerosis 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common autoimmune illness of the central nervous system. For many years the inflammatory manifestations of MS were treated using only corticosteroids. Since the 1990s the results of several clinical trials with immunomodulatory agents have changed the therapeutic approach to this disease. Interferon beta (IFNβ)-1b represents the pioneer of those therapies. There is growing evidence from clinical trials on relapsing-remitting MS and clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS that IFNβ-1b reduces the frequency and severity of relapses and the development of new and active brain lesions as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging. Long-term data suggest a persistent efficacy of IFNβ-1b on disease activity and a positive effect in slowing disability worsening. Furthermore a reduction of relapse rate and a slight positive effect on the progression were demonstrated when IFNβ-1b was administered to still-active secondary progressive MS. IFNβ-1b therapy is well tolerated and relatively free of long-term side effects. In spite of the emergence of new agents for the treatment of MS, IFNβ-1b still remains a first-line therapy with a fundamental role in all stages of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2726074  PMID: 19707422
interferon beta-1b; relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; clinically isolated syndromes; efficacy; safety; neutralizing antibodies

Results 1-9 (9)