Multiple Sclerosis is more common in women than men and females have more relapses than men. In a large international cohort we have evaluated the effect of gender on disability accumulation and disease progression to determine if male MS patients have a worse clinical outcome than females.
Using the MSBase Registry, data from 15,826 MS patients from 25 countries was analysed. Changes in the severity of MS (EDSS) were compared between sexes using a repeated measures analysis in generalised linear mixed models. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to test for sex difference in the time to reach EDSS milestones 3 and 6 and the secondary progressive MS.
In relapse onset MS patients (n = 14,453), males progressed significantly faster in their EDSS than females (0.133 vs 0.112 per year, P<0.001,). Females had a reduced risk of secondary progressive MS (HR (95% CI) = 0.77 (0.67 to 0.90) P = 0.001). In primary progressive MS (n = 1,373), there was a significant increase in EDSS over time in males and females (P<0.001) but there was no significant sex effect on the annualized rate of EDSS change.
Among registrants of MSBase, male relapse-onset patients accumulate disability faster than female patients. In contrast, the rate of disability accumulation between male and female patients with primary progressive MS is similar.
As new disease-modifying therapies emerge a better knowledge of the risk of comorbid disease in multiple sclerosis (MS) is needed.
To estimate the incidence and prevalence of comorbid gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, ocular, pulmonary, and renal disorders in MS.
We systematically reviewed the world literature by searching PUBMED, EMBASE, SCOPUS, the Web of Knowledge, and reference lists of retrieved articles. For selected articles, one reviewer abstracted data using a standardized form. The abstraction was verified by a second reviewer. The quality of all selected studies was assessed. For population-based studies we quantitatively assessed studies using the I2 statistic, and conducted random effects meta-analyses.
Study designs were heterogeneous with respect to populations, case definitions, and methods of ascertainment. Incidence of the studied comorbidities was rarely reported. Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic lung disease had a prevalence of more than 10% in the MS population. Irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, cataracts and glaucoma were more common than expected in the MS population.
Although they have been the subject of less study than other comorbidities, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and chronic lung disease are common in the MS population and occur more often than expected when compared to the general population.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; systematic review; incidence; prevalence; lung; cataracts; glaucoma; gastrointestinal
Psychiatric comorbidity is associated with lower quality of life, more fatigue, and reduced adherence to disease-modifying therapy in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The objectives of this review are to estimate the incidence and prevalence of selected comorbid psychiatric disorders in MS and evaluate the quality of included studies.
We searched the PubMed, PsychInfo, SCOPUS, and Web of Knowledge databases and reference lists of retrieved articles. Abstracts were screened for relevance by two independent reviewers, followed by full-text review. Data were abstracted by one reviewer, and verified by a second reviewer. Study quality was evaluated using a standardized tool. For population-based studies we assessed heterogeneity quantitatively using the I2 statistic, and conducted meta-analyses.
We included 118 studies in this review. Among population-based studies, the prevalence of anxiety was 21.9% (95% CI: 8.76%–35.0%), while it was 14.8% for alcohol abuse, 5.83% for bipolar disorder, 23.7% (95% CI: 17.4%–30.0%) for depression, 2.5% for substance abuse, and 4.3% (95% CI: 0%–10.3%) for psychosis.
This review confirms that psychiatric comorbidity, particularly depression and anxiety, is common in MS. However, the incidence of psychiatric comorbidity remains understudied. Future comparisons across studies would be enhanced by developing a consistent approach to measuring psychiatric comorbidity, and reporting of age-, sex-, and ethnicity-specific estimates.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; systematic review; incidence; prevalence; depression; anxiety; bipolar disorder; psychosis
As new therapies emerge which increase the risk of autoimmune disease it is increasingly important to understand the incidence of autoimmune disease in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The purpose of this review is to estimate the incidence and prevalence of comorbid autoimmune disease in MS.
The PUBMED, EMBASE, SCOPUS and Web of Knowledge databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of retrieved articles were searched, and abstracts were independently screened by two reviewers. The data were abstracted by one reviewer using a standardized data collection form, and the findings were verified by a second reviewer. We assessed quality of the included studies using a standardized approach and conducted meta-analyses of population-based studies.
Sixty-one articles met the inclusion criteria. We observed substantial heterogeneity with respect to the populations studied, methods of ascertaining comorbidity, and reporting of findings. Based solely on population-based studies, the most prevalent autoimmune comorbidities were psoriasis (7.74%) and thyroid disease (6.44%). Our findings also suggest an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease, likely uveitis and possibly pemphigoid.
Fewer than half of the studies identified were of high quality. Population-based studies that report age, sex and ethnicity-specific estimates of incidence and prevalence are needed in jurisdictions worldwide.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; autoimmune disease; incidence; prevalence
Several studies have suggested that comorbid neurologic disorders are more common than expected in multiple sclerosis (MS).
To estimate the incidence and prevalence of comorbid seizure disorders and sleep disorders in persons with MS and to evaluate the quality of studies included.
The PUBMED, EMBASE, Web of Knowledge, and SCOPUS databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of retrieved articles were searched. Two reviewers independently screened abstracts to identify relevant articles, followed by full-text review of selected articles. We assessed included studies qualitatively and quantitatively (I2 statistic), and conducted meta-analyses among population-based studies.
We reviewed 32 studies regarding seizure disorders. Among population-based studies the incidence of seizure disorders was 2.28% (95% CI: 1.11–3.44%), while the prevalence was 3.09% (95% CI: 2.01–4.16%). For sleep disorders we evaluated 18 studies; none were population-based. The prevalence ranged from 0–1.6% for narcolepsy, 14.4–57.5% for restless legs syndrome, 2.22–3.2% for REM behavior disorder, and 7.14–58.1% for obstructive sleep apnea.
This review suggests that seizure disorders and sleep disorders are common in MS, but highlights gaps in the epidemiological knowledge of these conditions in MS worldwide. Other than central-western Europe and North America, most regions are understudied.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; sleep; epilepsy; seizures; incidence; prevalence
Studies of cancer incidence and prevalence in multiple sclerosis (MS) have produced conflicting results.
To estimate the incidence and prevalence of cancer in persons with MS and review the quality of included studies.
We searched the PUBMED, SCOPUS, Web of Knowledge, and EMBASE databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of all articles retrieved. Abstracts were screened for relevance by two reviewers. Data from included articles were captured using a standardized form, and the abstraction was verified by a second reviewer. We assessed quality of the included studies. We quantitatively assessed studies using the I2 statistic, and conducted meta-analyses for population-based studies.
We identified 38 studies. Estimates for incidence and prevalence varied substantially for most cancers. In population-based studies, cervical, breast, and digestive cancers had the highest incidence. The risk of meningiomas and urinary system cancers appeared higher than expected, while the risks of pancreatic, ovarian, prostate and testicular cancer were lower than expected.Conclusion: The complexity of understanding cancer risk in MS is augmented by inconsistencies in study design, and the relative paucity of age, sex and ethnicity-specific risk estimates from which the strong impact of age on the incidence of cancers can be assessed.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; cancer; incidence; prevalence; systematic review
Findings regarding the prevalence of vascular comorbidities in multiple sclerosis (MS) are conflicting.
The objective of this review is to estimate the incidence and prevalence of vascular comorbidities and predisposing comorbidities in persons with MS and to assess the quality of the included studies.
The PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS and Web of Knowledge databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of retrieved articles were searched. One reviewer abstracted data using a standardized data collection form, while the second reviewer verified the abstraction. Included studies were assessed qualitatively. Quantitatively, we assessed studies using the I2 statistic, and conducted meta-analyses for population-based studies only.
The prevalence of hypertension and hyperlipidemia exceeded 10% in the MS population and increased with age. While the prevalence of ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke were less than 5% overall, the prevalence of these conditions exceeded expectations when compared to the general population. Cardiac valvular disease, however, affected the MS population less often than expected. Problems with study quality were common.
Despite the relatively high prevalence of some vascular comorbidities in the MS population, important gaps exist in our understanding of their epidemiology. Most of our knowledge is based on studies conducted in a small number of regions.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; cardiac; stroke; peripheral vascular disease; incidence; prevalence; systematic review
To determine early risk of relapse after switch from natalizumab to fingolimod; to compare the switch experience to that in patients switching from interferon-β/glatiramer acetate (IFN-β/GA) and those previously treatment naive; and to determine predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod.
Data were obtained from the MSBase Registry. Relapse rates (RRs) for each patient group were compared using adjusted negative binomial regression. Survival analyses coupled with adjusted Cox regression were used to model predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod.
A total of 536 patients (natalizumab-fingolimod [n = 89]; IFN-β/GA-fingolimod [n = 350]; naive-fingolimod [n = 97]) were followed up for a median 10 months. In the natalizumab-fingolimod group, there was a small increase in RR on fingolimod (annualized RR [ARR] 0.38) relative to natalizumab (ARR 0.26; p = 0.002). RRs were generally low across all patient groups in the first 9 months on fingolimod (RR 0.001–0.13). However, 30% of patients with disease activity on natalizumab relapsed within the first 6 months on fingolimod. Independent predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod were the number of relapses in the prior 6 months (hazard ratio [HR] 1.59 per relapse; p = 0.002) and a gap in treatment of 2–4 months compared to no gap (HR 2.10; p = 0.041).
RRs after switch to fingolimod were low in all patient groups. The strongest predictor of relapse on fingolimod was prior relapse activity. Based on our data, we recommend a maximum 2-month treatment gap for switches to fingolimod to decrease the hazard of relapse.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class IV evidence that RRs are not higher in patients with multiple sclerosis switching to fingolimod from natalizumab compared to those patients switching to fingolimod from other therapies.
To assess demographic, clinical, magnetic resonance imaging, and treatment exposure predictors of time to 3 or 12-month confirmed disability worsening in clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and early multiple sclerosis (MS).
We utilized the MSBase Incident Study (MSBasis), a prospective cohort study of outcome after CIS. Predictors of time to first 3 and 12-month confirmed expanded disability status scale worsening were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.
About 1989 patients were analyzed, the largest seen-from-onset cohort reported to-date. A total of 391 patients had a first 3-month confirmed disability worsening event, of which 307 were sustained for 12 months. Older age at CIS onset (adjusted hazard ratio: aHR 1.17, 95% 1.06, 1.30), pyramidal (aHR 1.45, 95% CI 1.13, 1.89) and ambulation (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.09, 2.34) system dysfunction, annualized relapse rate (aHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.18, 1.22), and lower proportion of observation time on treatment were associated with 3-month confirmed worsening. Predictors of time to 12-month sustained worsening included pyramidal system dysfunction (Hazard ratio: aHR 1.38, 95% CI 1.05, 1.83), and older age at CIS onset (aHR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04, 1.31). Greater proportion of follow-up time exposed to treatment was associated with greater reductions in the rate of worsening.
This study provides class IV evidence for a strong protective effect of disease-modifying treatment to reduce disability worsening events in patients with CIS and early MS, and confirms age and pyramidal dysfunction at onset as risk factors.
Comorbidity is an area of increasing interest in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The objective of this review is to estimate the incidence and prevalence of comorbidity in people with MS and assess the quality of included studies.
We searched the PubMed, SCOPUS, EMBASE and Web of Knowledge databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of retrieved articles. Two reviewers independently screened abstracts. One reviewer abstracted data using a standardized form and the abstraction was verified by a second reviewer. We assessed study quality using a standardized approach. We quantitatively assessed population-based studies using the I2 statistic, and conducted random-effects meta-analyses.
We included 249 articles. Study designs were variable with respect to source populations, case definitions, methods of ascertainment and approaches to reporting findings. Prevalence was reported more frequently than incidence; estimates for prevalence and incidence varied substantially for all conditions. Heterogeneity was high.
This review highlights substantial gaps in the epidemiological knowledge of comorbidity in MS worldwide. Little is known about comorbidity in Central or South America, Asia or Africa. Findings in North America and Europe are inconsistent. Future studies should report age-, sex- and ethnicity-specific estimates of incidence and prevalence, and standardize findings to a common population.
Multiple sclerosis; comorbidity; systematic review; incidence; prevalence
To compare treatment efficacy and persistence in patients who switched to natalizumab versus those who switched between glatiramer acetate (GA) and interferon-beta (IFNβ) after an on-treatment relapse on IFNβ or GA using propensity score matched real-world datasets.
Patients included were registered in MSBase or the TYSABRI Observational Program (TOP), had relapsed on IFNβ or GA within 12 months prior to switching to another therapy, and had initiated natalizumab or IFNβ/GA treatment ≤6 months after discontinuing prior therapy. Covariates were balanced across post switch treatment groups by propensity score matching at treatment initiation. Relapse, persistence, and disability measures were compared between matched treatment arms in the total population (n = 869/group) and in subgroups defined by prior treatment history (IFNβ only [n = 578/group], GA only [n = 165/group], or both IFNβ and GA [n = 176/group]).
Compared to switching between IFNβ and GA, switching to natalizumab reduced annualized relapse rate in year one by 65–75%, the risk of first relapse by 53–82% (mean follow-up 1.7–2.2 years) and treatment discontinuation events by 48–65% (all P ≤ 0.001). In the total population, switching to natalizumab reduced the risk of confirmed disability progression by 26% (P = 0.036) and decreased the total disability burden by 1.54 EDSS-years (P < 0.0001) over the first 24 months post switch.
Using large, real-world, propensity-matched datasets we demonstrate that after a relapse on IFNβ or GA, switching to natalizumab (rather than between IFNβ and GA) led to superior outcomes for patients in all measures assessed. Results were consistent regardless of the prior treatment identity.
Clinical trials established the efficacy and safety of natalizumab. Data are needed over longer periods of time and in the clinical practice setting.
To evaluate long-term safety of natalizumab and its impact on annualised relapse rate and Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) progression in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
The Tysabri (natalizumab) Observational Program (TOP) is an open-label, multinational, 10-year prospective study in clinical practice settings.
In this 5-year interim analysis, 4821 patients were enrolled. Follow-up for at least 4 years from natalizumab commencement in 468 patients and at least 2 years in 2496 patients revealed no new safety signals. There were 18 cases of progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy reported, following 11–44 natalizumab infusions. Mean annualised relapse rate decreased from 1.99 in the 12 months prior to baseline to 0.31 on natalizumab therapy (p<0.0001), remaining low at 5 years. Lower annualised relapse rates were observed in patients who used natalizumab as first MS therapy, in patients with lower baseline EDSS scores, and in patients with lower prenatalizumab relapse rates. Mean EDSS scores remained unchanged up to 5 years.
Interim TOP data confirm natalizumab's overall safety profile and the low relapse rate and stabilised disability levels in natalizumab-treated patients with RRMS in clinical practice.
Trial registration number
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.
Multiple sclerosis; Cognitive impairment; Assessment tool; Italian normative values
The aim of our project was to perform an exploratory analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteomic profiles of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, collected in different phases of their clinical course, in order to investigate the existence of peculiar profiles characterizing the different MS phenotypes. The study was carried out on 24 Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), 16 Relapsing Remitting (RR) MS, 11 Progressive (Pr) MS patients. The CSF samples were analysed using the Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Time Of Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometer in linear mode geometry and in delayed extraction mode (m/z range: 1000–25000 Da). Peak lists were imported for normalization and statistical analysis. CSF data were correlated with demographic, clinical and MRI parameters. The evaluation of MALDI-TOF spectra revealed 348 peak signals with relative intensity ≥1% in the study range. The peak intensity of the signals corresponding to Secretogranin II and Protein 7B2 were significantly upregulated in RRMS patients compared to PrMS (p<0.05), whereas the signals of Fibrinogen and Fibrinopeptide A were significantly downregulated in CIS compared to PrMS patients (p<0.04). Additionally, the intensity of the Tymosin β4 peak was the only signal to be significantly discriminated between the CIS and RRMS patients (p = 0.013). Although with caution due to the relatively small size of the study populations, and considering that not all the findings remained significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons, in our opinion this mass spectrometry evaluation confirms that this technique may provide useful and important information to improve our understanding of the complex pathogenesis of MS.
Angiogenesis, the formation of new vessels, is found in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) demyelinating lesions following Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) release and the production of several other angiogenic molecules. The increased energy demand of inflammatory cuffs and damaged neural cells explains the strong angiogenic response in plaques and surrounding white matter. An angiogenic response has also been documented in an experimental model of MS, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), where blood–brain barrier disruption and vascular remodelling appeared in a pre-symptomatic disease phase. In both MS and EAE, VEGF acts as a pro-inflammatory factor in the early phase but its reduced responsivity in the late phase can disrupt neuroregenerative attempts, since VEGF naturally enhances neuron resistance to injury and regulates neural progenitor proliferation, migration, differentiation and oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) survival and migration to demyelinated lesions. Angiogenesis, neurogenesis and oligodendroglia maturation are closely intertwined in the neurovascular niches of the subventricular zone, one of the preferential locations of inflammatory lesions in MS, and in all the other temporary vascular niches where the mutual fostering of angiogenesis and OPC maturation occurs. Angiogenesis, induced either by CNS inflammation or by hypoxic stimuli related to neurovascular uncoupling, appears to be ineffective in chronic MS due to a counterbalancing effect of vasoconstrictive mechanisms determined by the reduced axonal activity, astrocyte dysfunction, microglia secretion of free radical species and mitochondrial abnormalities. Thus, angiogenesis, that supplies several trophic factors, should be promoted in therapeutic neuroregeneration efforts to combat the progressive, degenerative phase of MS.
Angiogenesis; Blood–Brain Barrier; Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis; Multiple Sclerosis; Neuroprotection; Neurovascular uncoupling; Neurovascular unit; Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
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.
Multiple sclerosis; Paternity; Pregnancy; Interferon beta; Glatiramer acetate
Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, characterized by the presence of autoantibody (NMO-IgG) to Aquaporin-4 (AQP4). NMO-IgG identification supports NMO diagnosis and several diagnostic tests have been developed, but their sensitivity is too variable, and some assay show low sensitivity. This impairs correct diagnosis of NMO. By cell based assay (CBA) we here evaluate the efficacy of different strategies to express AQP4 in mammalian cells in terms of: a) AQP4 translation initiation signals; b) AQP4 isoforms (M1 and M23) and fluorescent tag position; c) NMO serum concentration and AQP4 degradation. Our results demonstrate that when using AQP4-M1, the nucleotide in position −3 of the AUG greatly affects the AQP4-M1/M23 protein ratio, NMO-IgG binding, and consequently test sensitivity. Test sensitivity was highest with M23 expressing cells (97.5%) and only 27.5% with AQP4-M1. The fluorescent tag added to the N-terminus of AQP4-M23 considerably affected the NMO-IgG binding, and test sensitivity, due to disruption of AQP4 suprastructures. Furthermore, sera used at high concentration resulted in AQP4 degradation which affected test sensitivity. To further evaluate the reliability of the M23 based CBA test, samples of one NMO patient collected during about 2 years clinical follow-up were tested. The results of serum titer correlated with disease activity and treatment response. In conclusion, we provide a molecular explanation for the contrasting CBA test data reported and suggest the use of M23 with a C-terminus fluorescent tag as the proper test for NMO diagnosis.
To assess the effects of subcutaneous (sc) interferon (IFN) -1a on cognition over 5 years in mildly disabled patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Patients aged 18–50 years with RRMS (Expanded Disability Status Scale score ≤4.0) who had completed the 3-year COGIMUS study underwent standardized magnetic resonance imaging, neurological examination, and neuropsychological testing at years 4 and 5. Predictors of cognitive impairment at year 5 were identified using multivariate analysis.
Of 331 patients who completed the 3-year COGIMUS study, 265 participated in the 2-year extension study, 201 of whom (75.8%; sc IFN β-1a three times weekly: 44 µg, n = 108; 22 µg, n = 93) completed 5 years' follow-up. The proportion of patients with cognitive impairment in the study population overall remained stable between baseline (18.0%) and year 5 (22.6%). The proportion of patients with cognitive impairment also remained stable in both treatment groups between baseline and year 5, and between year 3 and year 5. However, a significantly higher proportion of men than women had cognitive impairment at year 5 (26.5% vs 14.4%, p = 0.046). Treatment with the 22 versus 44 µg dose was predictive of cognitive impairment at year 5 (hazard ratio 0.68; 95% confidence interval 0.48–0.97).
This study suggests that sc IFN β-1a dose-dependently stabilizes or delays cognitive impairment over a 5-year period in most patients with mild RRMS. Women seem to be more protected against developing cognitive impairment, which may indicate greater response to therapy or the inherently better prognosis associated with female sex in MS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Epidural analgesia; Caesarean delivery; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy
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.
In this paper we assessed and compared sex ratio trends, over a 60-year span, in MS populations belonging to different latitudinal areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glatiramer acetate; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome; In utero exposure
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.
To evaluate serum urate levels in MS patients and their relationships with clinical, demographic and MRI variables.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
In this multivariable survival analysis, female sex, country of residence, EDSS change and IMD choice independently predicted time to first IMD cessation.
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.
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.
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.
These results demonstrate that a short-term NTZ treatment may significantly improve cognitive performances and fatigue in RRMS patients.