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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.
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
2.  Clinical baseline factors predict response to natalizumab: their usefulness in patient selection 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:103.
Optimal patient selection would improve the risk-benefit ratio of natalizumab treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RR MS). Clinical features of subjects responding to natalizumab have not been univocally recognized.
Longitudinal data on RR MS patients treated with natalizumab in Liguria, Italy are reported. Predictors of relapse occurrence and disability improvement were analyzed with a logistic regression method in subjects treated for one year (N = 62). A new score, called “Better EDSS Trend (BET)”, was devised to describe the impact of the treatment on disability. Changes in annualized relapse rate (ARR) and Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) after one and two years and proportion of disease-free patients were evaluated.
Previous EDSS worsening plus ARR ≥ 2 increased the risk of relapse during the treatment [Odds Ratio (OR) 4.12, P = 0.04], but this was not associated with an increase in disability at one year. EDSS 3.0-3.5 or high disease activity were associated with neurological improvement in the first year of treatment (respectively OR 5.78, P = 0.05 and OR 4.80, P = 0.05). Positive BET score, i.e. improvement in the disability trend, was observed in 40.3% of patients, and correlated with high ARR in the year before treatment (OR 1.69, P = 0.03).
Subjects with EDSS 3.0-3.5 and those with very active disease in the year before treatment are most likely to improve in neurological function under natalizumab. A relapse in the first year of treatment is associated to high pre-treatment disease activity; however, since the occurrence of a relapse did not have a negative impact on clinical improvement at one year, we suggest that it should not lead to treatment discontinuation. We propose BET as an additional endpoint of treatment response in MS.
PMCID: PMC4045962  PMID: 24885703
Multiple sclerosis; Natalizumab; Neuropharmacology; Clinical neurology
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Adaptive robot training for the treatment of incoordination in Multiple Sclerosis 
Cerebellar symptoms are extremely disabling and are common in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) subjects. In this feasibility study, we developed and tested a robot therapy protocol, aimed at the rehabilitation of incoordination in MS subjects.
Eight subjects with clinically defined MS performed planar reaching movements while grasping the handle of a robotic manipulandum, which generated forces that either reduced (error-reducing, ER) or enhanced (error-enhancing, EE) the curvature of their movements, assessed at the beginning of each session. The protocol was designed to adapt to the individual subjects' impairments, as well as to improvements between sessions (if any). Each subject went through a total of eight training sessions. To compare the effect of the two variants of the training protocol (ER and EE), we used a cross-over design consisting of two blocks of sessions (four ER and four EE; 2 sessions/week), separated by a 2-weeks rest period. The order of application of ER and EE exercises was randomized across subjects. The primary outcome measure was the modification of the Nine Hole Peg Test (NHPT) score. Other clinical scales and movement kinematics were taken as secondary outcomes.
Most subjects revealed a preserved ability to adapt to the robot-generated forces. No significant differences were observed in EE and ER training. However over sessions, subjects exhibited an average 24% decrease in their NHPT score. The other clinical scales showed small improvements for at least some of the subjects. After training, movements became smoother, and their curvature decreased significantly over sessions.
The results point to an improved coordination over sessions and suggest a potential benefit of a short-term, customized, and adaptive robot therapy for MS subjects.
PMCID: PMC2927907  PMID: 20670420

Results 1-6 (6)