Publications by authors named "Anneke Van Der Walt"

49 Publications

Functional correlates of motor control impairments in multiple sclerosis: A 7 Tesla task functional MRI study.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Mar 5. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Medicine and Radiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.

Upper and lower limb impairments are common in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS), yet difficult to clinically identify in early stages of disease progression. Tasks involving complex motor control can potentially reveal more subtle deficits in early stages, and can be performed during functional MRI (fMRI) acquisition, to investigate underlying neural mechanisms, providing markers for early motor progression. We investigated brain activation during visually guided force matching of hand or foot in 28 minimally disabled pwMS (Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) < 4 and pyramidal and cerebellar Kurtzke Functional Systems Scores ≤ 2) and 17 healthy controls (HC) using ultra-high field 7-Tesla fMRI, allowing us to visualise sensorimotor network activity in high detail. Task activations and performance (tracking lag and error) were compared between groups, and correlations were performed. PwMS showed delayed (+124 s, p = .002) and more erroneous (+0.15 N, p = .001) lower limb tracking, together with lower cerebellar, occipital and superior parietal cortical activation compared to HC. Lower activity within these regions correlated with worse EDSS (p = .034), lower force error (p = .006) and higher lesion load (p < .05). Despite no differences in upper limb task performance, pwMS displayed lower inferior occipital cortical activation. These results demonstrate that ultra-high field fMRI during complex hand and foot tracking can identify subtle impairments in lower limb movements and upper and lower limb brain activity, and differentiates upper and lower limb impairments in minimally disabled pwMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25389DOI Listing
March 2021

Effect of Disease-Modifying Therapy on Disability in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Over 15 Years.

Neurology 2021 02 28;96(5):e783-e797. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

From CORe (T.K., I.D., S.S., C.M.), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne; MS Centre (T.K., I.D., S.S., C.M.), Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; Karolinska Institute (T.S.), Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Neuroscience (T.S., V.J., A.v.d.W., O.S., H.B.), Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne; Burnet Institute (T.S.), Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience (D.H., E.K.H.), General University Hospital and Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs (M. Trojano), University of Bari, Italy; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G.I.), Sevilla, Spain; Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences (A.L.), University "G. d'Annunzio," Chieti; Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences (A.L.), University of Bologna, IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Italy; Hopital Notre Dame (A.P., M.G., P.D.), Montreal; CHUM and Universite de Montreal (A.P., M.G., P.D.); CISSS Chaudière-Appalache (P.G.), Levis, Canada; Department of Neurology (V.J., A.v.d.W., O.S., H.B.), Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Neuro Rive-Sud (F. Grand'Maison), Quebec, Canada; Department of Neuroscience (P.S., D.F.), Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Modena, Italy; Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (V.S.), Isfahan, Iran; Amiri Hospital (R. Alroughani), Kuwait City, Kuwait; Zuyderland Ziekenhuis (R.H.), Sittard, the Netherlands; Medical Faculty (M. Terzi), 19 Mayis University, Samsun; KTU Medical Faculty Farabi Hospital (C.B.), Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey; School of Medicine and Public Health (J.L.-S.), University Newcastle; Department of Neurology (J.L.-S.), John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia; UOC Neurologia (E.P.), Azienda Sanitaria Unica Regionale Marche-AV3, Macerata, Italy; Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc (V.V.P.), Brussels, Belgium; University of Parma (F. Granella); C. Mondino National Neurological Institute (R.B.), Pavia; Azienda Ospedaliera di Rilievo Nazionale San Giuseppe Moscati Avellino (D.S.), Italy; Flinders University (M. Slee), Adelaide; Westmead Hospital (S.V.), Sydney, Australia; Nemocnice Jihlava (R. Ampapa), Czech Republic; University of Queensland (P.M.), Brisbane; Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (P.M.), Brisbane, Australia; Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (C.R.-T.), Badalona, Spain; CSSS Saint-Jérôme (J.P.), Canada; Hospital Universitario Donostia (J.O.), Paseo de Begiristain, San Sebastián, Spain; Hospital Italiano (E.C.), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Brain and Mind Centre (M.B.), University of Sydney, Australia; INEBA-Institute of Neuroscience Buenos Aires (M.L.S.), Argentina; Hospital de Galdakao-Usansolo (J.L.S.-M.), Galdakao, Spain; Liverpool Hospital (S. Hodgkinson), Sydney, Australia; Jahn Ferenc Teaching Hospital (C.R.), Budapest, Hungary; Craigavon Area Hospital (S. Hughes), UK; Jewish General Hospital (F.M.), Montreal, Canada; Deakin University (C.S.), Geelong; Monash Medical Centre (E.B.), Melbourne, Australia; South East Trust (O.G.), Belfast, UK; Perron Institute (A.K.), University of Western Australia, Nedlands; Institute of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (A.K.), Murdoch University; Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (A.K.), Perth, Australia; Department of Neurology (T.C.), Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen, Hungary; Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences (B.S.), Mumbai, India; St Vincents Hospital (N.S.), Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia; Veszprém Megyei Csolnoky Ferenc Kórház zrt (I.P.), Veszprem, Hungary; Royal Hobart Hospital (B.T.), Australia; Semmelweis University Budapest (M. Simo), Hungary; Central Military Emergency University Hospital (C.-A.S.), Bucharest; Titu Maiorescu University (C.-A.S.), Bucharest, Romania; BAZ County Hospital (A.S.), Miskolc, Hungary; and Box Hill Hospital (H.B.), Melbourne, Australia.

Objective: To test the hypothesis that immunotherapy prevents long-term disability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), we modeled disability outcomes in 14,717 patients.

Methods: We studied patients from MSBase followed for ≥1 year, with ≥3 visits, ≥1 visit per year, and exposed to MS therapy, and a subset of patients with ≥15-year follow-up. Marginal structural models were used to compare the cumulative hazards of 12-month confirmed increase and decrease in disability, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) step 6, and the incidence of relapses between treated and untreated periods. Marginal structural models were continuously readjusted for patient age, sex, pregnancy, date, disease course, time from first symptom, prior relapse history, disability, and MRI activity.

Results: A total of 14,717 patients were studied. During the treated periods, patients were less likely to experience relapses (hazard ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.43-0.82, = 0.0016), worsening of disability (0.56, 0.38-0.82, = 0.0026), and progress to EDSS step 6 (0.33, 0.19-0.59, = 0.00019). Among 1,085 patients with ≥15-year follow-up, the treated patients were less likely to experience relapses (0.59, 0.50-0.70, = 10) and worsening of disability (0.81, 0.67-0.99, = 0.043).

Conclusion: Continued treatment with MS immunotherapies reduces disability accrual by 19%-44% (95% CI 1%-62%), the risk of need of a walking aid by 67% (95% CI 41%-81%), and the frequency of relapses by 40-41% (95% CI 18%-57%) over 15 years. This study provides evidence that disease-modifying therapies are effective in improving disability outcomes in relapsing-remitting MS over the long term.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that, for patients with relapsing-remitting MS, long-term exposure to immunotherapy prevents neurologic disability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000011242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884998PMC
February 2021

Fast and safe: Optimising multiple sclerosis infusions during COVID-19 pandemic.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Jan 1;47:102642. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Alfred Health, Clinical Neurosciences, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne Australia.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic challenges multiple sclerosis services to be innovative in delivering infusible therapies. To reduce time in clinical settings, and potential staff or space losses, we implemented rapid infusion protocols for selected patients.

Objective: To analyse the rate of infusion related reactions and patient experience of rapid infusions of natalizumab and ocrelizumab. To document time reduction patients spent in clinical settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Patients with prior exposure to at least three natalizumab or two 300mg ocrelizumab infusions were approved for rapid protocols. A retrospective audit and survey were completed.

Results: We analysed 269 rapid natalizumab infusions and 100 rapid ocrelizumab infusions. Infusion related reactions during the natalizumab or ocrelizumab infusions occurred in two patients (1.52%) and eight patients (8%), respectively. All infusion related reactions were mild to moderate and did not require infusion discontinuation. No infusion reactions occurred during the post-infusion observation. Patient experience was positive.

Conclusion: Frequency or severity of infusion related reactions in rapid infusions were no different compared to published data. In the setting of COVID-19, pandemic rapid infusion protocols could potentially save hospital resources and limit patient exposure to a high-risk clinical setting while still maintaining ongoing treatment of multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102642DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955770PMC
January 2021

Speech discrimination performance in multiple sclerosis dataset.

Data Brief 2020 Dec 3;33:106614. Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Neuroscience Discovery Program, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

The most complex interactions between human beings occur through speech, and often in the presence of background noise. Understanding speech in noisy environments requires the integrity of highly integrated and widespread auditory networks likely to be impacted by multiple sclerosis (MS) related neurogenic injury. Despite the impact auditory communication has on a person's ability to navigate the world, build relationships, and maintain employability; studies of speech-in-noise (SiN) perception in people with MS (pwMS) have been minimal to date. Thus, this paper presents a dataset related to the acquisition of pure-tone thresholds, SiN performance and questionnaire responses in age-matched controls and pwMS. Bilateral pure-tone hearing thresholds were obtained at frequencies of 250 hertz (Hz), 500 Hz, 750 Hz, 1000 Hz, 1500 Hz, 2000 Hz, 4000 Hz, 6000 Hz and 8000 Hz, and hearing thresholds were defined as the lowest level at which the tone was perceived 50% of the time. Thresholds at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz and 4000 Hz were used to calculate the four-tone average for each participant, and only those with a bilateral four tone average of ≤ 25 dB HL were included in the analysis. To investigate SiN performance in pwMS, pre-recorded Bamford-Kowal-Bench (BKB) sentences were presented binaurally through headphones at five signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) in two noise conditions: speech-weighted noise and multi-talker babble. Participants were required to verbally repeat each sentence they had just heard; or indicate their inability to do so. A 33-item questionnaire, based on validated inventories for specific adult clinical populations with abnormal auditory processing, was used to evaluate auditory processing in daily life for pwMS. For analysis, pwMS were grouped according to their Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score as rated by a neurologist. PwMS with EDSS scores ≤ 1.5 were classified as 'mild' ( = 20); between 2 and 4.5 as 'moderate' ( = 16) and between 5 and 7 as 'advanced' ( = 10) and were compared to neurologically healthy controls ( = 38). The outcomes of the SiN task conducted in pwMS can be found in Iva et al., (2021). The present data has important implications for the timing and delivery of preparatory education to patients, family, and caregivers about communication abilities in pwMS. This dataset will also be valuable for the reuse/reanalysis required for future investigations into the clinical utility of SiN tasks to monitor disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.106614DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7726651PMC
December 2020

Speech discrimination impairments as a marker of disease severity in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Jan 1;47:102608. Epub 2020 Nov 1.

Neuroscience Discovery Program, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) pathology is likely to disrupt central auditory pathways, thereby affecting an individual's ability to discriminate speech from noise. Despite the importance of speech discrimination in daily communication, it's characterization in the context of MS remains limited. This cross-sectional study evaluated speech discrimination in MS under "real world" conditions where sentences were presented in ecologically valid multi-talker speech or broadband noise at several signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs).

Methods: Pre-recorded Bamford-Kowal-Bench sentences were presented at five signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) in one of two background noises: speech-weighted noise and eight-talker babble. All auditory stimuli were presented via headphones to control (n = 38) and MS listeners with mild (n = 20), moderate (n = 16) and advanced (n = 10) disability. Disability was quantified by the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and scored by a neurologist. All participants passed a routine audiometric examination.

Results: Despite normal hearing, MS psychometric discrimination curves which model the relationship between signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and sentence discrimination accuracy in speech-weighted noise and babble did not change in slope (sentences/dB) but shifted to higher SNRs (dB) compared to controls. The magnitude of the shift in the curve systematically increased with greater disability. Furthermore, mixed-effects models identified EDSS score as the most significant predictor of speech discrimination in noise (odds ratio = 0.81; p < 0.001). Neither age, sex, disease phenotype or disease duration were significantly associated with speech discrimination performance in noise. Only MS listeners with advanced disability self-reported audio-attentional difficulty in a questionnaire designed to reflect auditory processing behaviours in daily life.

Conclusion: Speech discrimination performance worsened systematically with greater disability, independent of age, sex, education, disease duration or disease phenotype. These results identify novel auditory processing deficits in MS and highlight that speech discrimination tasks may provide a viable non-invasive and sensitive means for disease monitoring in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102608DOI Listing
January 2021

The Pharmacogenetics of Rituximab: Potential Implications for Anti-CD20 Therapies in Multiple Sclerosis.

Neurotherapeutics 2020 10 14;17(4):1768-1784. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

There are a broad range of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) available in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), but limited biomarkers exist to personalise DMT choice. All DMTs, including monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab and ocrelizumab, are effective in preventing relapses and preserving neurological function in MS. However, each agent harbours its own risk of therapeutic failure or adverse events. Pharmacogenetics, the study of the effects of genetic variation on therapeutic response or adverse events, could improve the precision of DMT selection. Pharmacogenetic studies of rituximab in MS patients are lacking, but pharmacogenetic markers in other rituximab-treated autoimmune conditions have been identified. This review will outline the wider implications of pharmacogenetics and the mechanisms of anti-CD20 agents in MS. We explore the non-MS rituximab literature to characterise pharmacogenetic variants that could be of prognostic relevance in those receiving rituximab, ocrelizumab or other monoclonal antibodies for MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13311-020-00950-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851267PMC
October 2020

Association of Pregnancy With the Onset of Clinically Isolated Syndrome.

JAMA Neurol 2020 Sep 14. Epub 2020 Sep 14.

Department of Neurology, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Importance: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is usually diagnosed in women during their childbearing years. Currently, no consensus exists on whether pregnancy can delay the first episode of demyelination or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS).

Objective: To investigate the association of pregnancy with time to CIS onset.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This multicenter cohort study collected reproductive history (duration of each pregnancy, date of delivery, length of breastfeeding) on all participants between September 1, 2016, and June 25, 2019. Adult women being treated at the MS outpatient clinics of 4 tertiary hospitals in 2 countries (Charles University and General University Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic; Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia; Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia; and John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia) were recruited to participate in the study. Preexisting data (date of CIS onset, date of birth, sex, date of clinical onset, and Expanded Disability Status Scale result) were collected from MSBase, an international registry of long-term prospectively collected data on patients with MS. Data analyses were performed from June 1, 2019, to February 3, 2020.

Exposures: Gravida (defined as any pregnancy, including pregnancy that ended in miscarriage and induced abortion) and parity (defined as childbirth after gestational age of more than 20 weeks, including livebirth and stillbirth) before CIS onset.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Time to CIS onset. The following were assessed: (1) whether women with previous pregnancies and childbirths had a delayed onset of CIS compared with those who had never been pregnant and those who had never given birth, and (2) whether a dose response existed, whereby a higher number of gravidity and parity was associated with a later onset of CIS.

Results: Of the 2557 women included in the study, the mean (SD) age at CIS onset was 31.5 (9.7) years. Of these women, before CIS onset, 1188 (46%) had at least 1 pregnancy and 1100 (43%) had at least 1 childbirth. The mean (SD) age at first pregnancy was 23.3 (4.5) years and at first childbirth was 23.8 (4.5) years. Women with previous pregnancies and childbirths had a later onset of CIS compared with those who had never been pregnant (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.62-0.75; P < .001), with a median delay of 3.3 (95% CI, 2.5-4.1) years. Women who had given birth also had a later CIS onset compared with women who had never given birth (HR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.61-0.75; P < .001), with a similar median delay of 3.4 (95% CI, 1.6-5.2) years. A higher gravidity and parity number was not associated with delay in CIS onset.

Conclusions And Relevance: This study suggests an association between previous pregnancies and childbirths and timing of CIS onset, but having more pregnancies or childbirths did not appear to be associated with a later CIS onset. Further studies are needed to help explain the mechanisms behind the associations between pregnancy and onset of multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.3324DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7490748PMC
September 2020

Immunoregulatory effects and therapeutic potential of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis.

Br J Pharmacol 2020 09 5;177(18):4113-4133. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Initially recognised as an important factor for bone health, vitamin D is now known to have a range of effects on the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the CNS. In this review, we explore the links between vitamin D deficiency, MS risk, and disease activity. We also discuss the known immune effects of vitamin D supplementation and the relevance of these observations to the immunopathology of MS. Finally, we review the existing evidence for vitamin D supplementation as an MS therapy, highlighting several recent clinical studies and trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.15201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7443468PMC
September 2020

COVID-19 in people with multiple sclerosis: A global data sharing initiative.

Mult Scler 2020 09 14;26(10):1157-1162. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

MS International Federation, London, UK.

Background: We need high-quality data to assess the determinants for COVID-19 severity in people with MS (PwMS). Several studies have recently emerged but there is great benefit in aligning data collection efforts at a global scale.

Objectives: Our mission is to scale-up COVID-19 data collection efforts and provide the MS community with data-driven insights as soon as possible.

Methods: Numerous stakeholders were brought together. Small dedicated interdisciplinary task forces were created to speed-up the formulation of the study design and work plan. First step was to agree upon a COVID-19 MS core data set. Second, we worked on providing a user-friendly and rapid pipeline to share COVID-19 data at a global scale.

Results: The COVID-19 MS core data set was agreed within 48 hours. To date, 23 data collection partners are involved and the first data imports have been performed successfully. Data processing and analysis is an on-going process.

Conclusions: We reached a consensus on a core data set and established data sharing processes with multiple partners to address an urgent need for information to guide clinical practice. First results show that partners are motivated to share data to attain the ultimate joint goal: better understand the effect of COVID-19 in PwMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520941485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361123PMC
September 2020

Sex effects across the lifespan in women with multiple sclerosis.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2020 1;13:1756286420936166. Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Department of Neurology, St. Josef Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating central nervous system disorder that is more common in women, with onset often during reproductive years. The female:male sex ratio of MS rose in several regions over the last century, suggesting a possible sex by environmental interaction increasing MS risk in women. Since many with MS are in their childbearing years, family planning, including contraceptive and disease-modifying therapy (DMT) counselling, are important aspects of MS care in women. While some DMTs are likely harmful to the developing fetus, others can be used shortly before or until pregnancy is confirmed. Overall, pregnancy decreases risk of MS relapses, whereas relapse risk may increase postpartum, although pregnancy does not appear to be harmful for long-term prognosis of MS. However, ovarian aging may contribute to disability progression in women with MS. Here, we review sex effects across the lifespan in women with MS, including the effect of sex on MS susceptibility, effects of pregnancy on MS disease activity, and management strategies around pregnancy, including risks associated with DMT use before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. We also review reproductive aging and sexual dysfunction in women with MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756286420936166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7331774PMC
July 2020

MSCOVID19: Using social media to achieve rapid dissemination of health information.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Oct 24;45:102338. Epub 2020 Jun 24.

Alfred Health, Clinical Neurosciences, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne Australia.

Background And Objective: The global COVID-19 pandemic creates an obvious acute health care resourcing and response problem. The different timing of pandemic peak in geographically distinct locations creates a short window of response opportunity. Rapid dissemination of medical information from early affected areas to later ones is therefore crucial to optimise planning. Formulating the best system response for at-risk patient populations is especially complex. People with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) are exposed to long-term immunosuppressive disease modifying treatments (DMTs) and, in theory, could be at increased risk of contracting the virus and developing complications. Social media, such as Twitter, can provide a global platform to rapidly share information and individual experiences.

Methods And Results: This report summarizes the case experience of pwMS with COVID-19 infection in the first month of the pandemic as reported on Twitter using the #MSCOVID19 hashtag. 26 individual cases of COVID-19 in pwMS were reported from Europe and the United States of America. The cases involved a combination of relapsing and progressive MS phenotypes treated with a range of DMT (5 anti CD20 therapy, 4 cladribine, 4 fingolimod, 4 injectables, 3 alemtuzumab, 2 dimethyl fumarate, 2 untreated, 1 teriflunomide, 1 natalizumab). The cases shared present the earliest reported data on outcomes of COVID-19 infection in pwMS. Whilst limited, the cautiously reassuring nature of these early cases assisted in clinical management by allowing neurologists to continuously reassess their approach to DMT management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102338DOI Listing
October 2020

Acoustic Speech Analytics Are Predictive of Cerebellar Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis.

Cerebellum 2020 Oct;19(5):691-700

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia.

Speech production relies on motor control and cognitive processing and is linked to cerebellar function. In diseases where the cerebellum is impaired, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), speech abnormalities are common and can be detected by instrumental assessments. However, the potential of speech assessments to be used to monitor cerebellar impairment in MS remains unexplored. The aim of this study is to build an objectively measured speech score that reflects cerebellar function, pathology and quality of life in MS. Eighty-five people with MS and 21 controls participated in the study. Speech was independently assessed through objective acoustic analysis and blind expert listener ratings. Cerebellar function and overall disease disability were measured through validated clinical scores; cerebellar pathology was assessed via magnetic resonance imaging, and validated questionnaires informed quality of life. Selected speech variables were entered in a regression model to predict cerebellar function. The resulting model was condensed into one composite speech score and tested for prediction of abnormal 9-hole peg test (9HPT), and for correlations with the remaining cerebellar scores, imaging measurements and self-assessed quality of life. Slow rate of syllable repetition and increased free speech pause percentage were the strongest predictors of cerebellar impairment, complemented by phonatory instability. Those variables formed the acoustic composite score that accounted for 54% of variation in cerebellar function, correlated with cerebellar white matter volume (r = 0.3, p = 0.017), quality of life (r = 0.5, p < 0.001) and predicted an abnormal 9HPT with 85% accuracy. An objective multi-feature speech metric was highly representative of motor cerebellar impairment in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-020-01151-5DOI Listing
October 2020

Increased risk of cervical dysplasia in females with autoimmune conditions-Results from an Australia database linkage study.

PLoS One 2020 18;15(6):e0234813. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Department of Neurology, MS and Neuroimmunology Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Autoimmune conditions (AICs) and/or their treatment may alter risk of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and females with AICs are therefore at an increased risk of cervical dysplasia. However, inclusion of these at-risk populations in cervical cancer screening and HPV-vaccination guidelines, are mostly lacking. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of cervical dysplasia in a wide range of AICs and compare that to HIV and immunocompetent controls to support the optimisation of cervical cancer preventive health measures.

Methods: Data linkage was used to match cervical screening episodes to emergency department records of females with AICs or HIV to immunocompetent controls over a 14-year period. The primary outcome was histologically confirmed high-grade cervical disease. Results, measured as rates by cytology and histology classification per 1,000 females screened, were analysed per disease group, and intergroup comparisons were performed.

Results: Females with inflammatory bowel disease (2,683), psoriatic and enteropathic arthropathies (1,848), multiple sclerosis (MS) (1,426), rheumatoid arthritis (1,246), systemic lupus erythematosus and/or mixed connective tissue disease (SLE/MCTD) (702), HIV (44), and 985,383 immunocompetent controls were included. SLE/MCTD and HIV groups had greater rates of high-grade histological and cytological abnormalities compared to controls. Increased rates of low-grade cytological abnormalities were detected in all females with AICs, with the exception of the MS group.

Conclusions: Females with SLE/MCTD or HIV have increased rates of high-grade cervical abnormalities. The increased low-grade dysplasia rate seen in most females with AICs is consistent with increased HPV infection. These findings support expansion of cervical cancer preventative programs to include these at-risk females.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234813PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7302686PMC
August 2020

Disability outcomes of early cerebellar and brainstem symptoms in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2021 Apr 15;27(5):755-766. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

CORe, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Department of Neurology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Cerebellar and brainstem symptoms are common in early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) yet their prognostic values remain unclear.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate long-term disability outcomes in patients with early cerebellar and brainstem symptoms.

Methods: This study used data from MSBase registry. Patients with early cerebellar/brainstem presentations were identified as those with cerebellar/brainstem relapse(s) or functional system score ⩾ 2 in the initial 2 years. Early pyramidal presentation was chosen as a comparator. Andersen-Gill models were used to compare cumulative hazards of (1) disability progression events and (2) relapses between patients with and without early cerebellar/brainstem symptoms. Mixed effect models were used to estimate the associations between early cerebellar/brainstem presentations and expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores.

Results: The study cohort consisted of 10,513 eligible patients, including 2723 and 3915 patients with early cerebellar and brainstem symptoms, respectively. Early cerebellar presentation was associated with greater hazard of progression events (HR = 1.37,  < 0.001) and EDSS (β = 0.16,  < 0.001). Patients with early brainstem symptoms had lower hazard of progression events (HR = 0.89,  = 0.01) and EDSS (β = -0.06,  < 0.001). Neither presentation was associated with changes in relapse risk.

Conclusion: Early cerebellar presentation is associated with unfavourable outcomes, while early brainstem presentation is associated with favourable prognosis. These presentations may be used as MS prognostic markers and guide therapeutic approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520926955DOI Listing
April 2021

The MSReactor computerized cognitive battery correlates with the processing speed test in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Aug 25;43:102212. Epub 2020 May 25.

Department of Neurology, MSNI Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Monitoring and screening of cognitive function in the ambulatory setting requires simple, brief cognitive tests that are reproducible. MSReactor (MSR) is a web-based platform that screens psychomotor (processing) speed, attention and working memory using a game-like interface. The Processing Speed Test (PST) is a validated computerized version of the Symbol Digit Modalities test (SDMT) and component of the Multiple Sclerosis Performance Test (MSPT).

Objective: To determine the baseline and 6-month predictive correlations between the MSReactor computerised cognitive battery and the PST.

Methods: Prospectively enrolled relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients completed the MSR and the PST during 6-monthly clinic visits. Pearson's product-moment coefficients with partial correlation adjustment were calculated between the PST and MSR reaction times for Simple reaction test (SRT), Choice reaction test (CRT) and One- back test (OBK).

Results: 379 RRMS patients from six tertiary MS centres in Australia were enrolled. The mean age was 40.4 years (SD 10.3) and median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score was 1.5 (IQR 1.0 - 2.0). Most (66%) were on high efficacy disease-modifying treatment. Baseline PST scores correlated with the MSR reaction times: SRT (R=-0.40), CRT (R= -0.44) and OBK (R= -0.47), p <0.05. There was a moderate correlation between the first visit MSR and 6-month PST test for SRT (R= -0.37, p<0.001), CRT (R=-0.44, p < 0.001) and OBK (R= -0.43, p < 0.001) speed.

Conclusions: MSR-measured psychomotor speed, attention and working memory at baseline moderately correlates with baseline and 6-month PST; suggesting overlapping cognitive processes are being tested. Six-month test-retest reliability was acceptable for both tests.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102212DOI Listing
August 2020

Increased ankle muscle coactivation in the early stages of multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2020 Jan-Mar;6(1):2055217320905870. Epub 2020 Feb 11.

Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Neural damage at early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) can subtly affect gait muscle activation patterns. Detecting these changes using current clinical tools, however, is not possible. We propose using muscle coactivation measures to detect these subtle gait changes. This may also help in identifying people with MS (PwMS) that may benefit from strategies aimed at preventing further mobility impairments.

Objective: We aimed to determine if coactivation of ankle muscles during gait is greater in PwMS with Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score <3.5. A secondary aim is to determine whether coactivation increases are speed dependent.

Methods: For this study 30 PwMS and 15 healthy controls (HC) walked on a treadmill at 1.0 m/s, 1.2 m/s and 1.4 m/s. Electromyography was recorded from the tibialis anterior (TA), soleus (SO) and lateral gastrocnemius (LG). The coactivation index was calculated between SO/TA and LG/TA. Ankle kinematics data were also collected.

Results: Compared with HC, PwMS exhibited significantly greater SO/TA and LG/TA coactivation, which was greater during early stance and swing phases ( < .01). Speed did not affect coactivation except during early stance. Ankle kinematic changes were also observed.

Conclusion: PwMS exhibited greater ankle muscles coactivation than controls regardless of the speed of walking. These changes in muscle activation may serve as a biomarker of neurodegeneration occurring at early stages of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2055217320905870DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7016311PMC
February 2020

OnabotulinumtoxinA treatment for MS-tremor modifies fMRI tremor response in central sensory-motor integration areas.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 May 5;40:101984. Epub 2020 Feb 5.

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; The Bionics Institute, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Australia.

Background: Treatment of tremor in MS is an unmet need. OnabotulinumtoxinA (BoNT-A) has shown promising results; however, little is known regarding its effects on the brain. The clinical presentation of tremor MS is shown to depend on subcortical neural damage and cortical neural plasticity. This study aimed to identify effects of onabotulinumtoxinA (BoNT-A) on brain activation in MS and upper-limb tremor using functional MRI.

Methods: Forty-three MS participants with tremor were randomized to receive intramuscular injections of placebo (n = 22) or BoNT-A (n = 21). Tremor was quantified using the Bain score (0-10) for severity, handwriting and Archimedes drawing at baseline, 6 weeks and 12 weeks. Functional MRI activation within two previously identified clusters, ipsilateral inferior parietal cortex (IPL) and premotor/supplementary motor cortex (SMC) of compensatory activity, was measured at baseline and 6 weeks.

Results: Treatment with BoNT-A resulted in improved handwriting tremor at 6 weeks (p = 0.049) and 12 weeks (p = 0.014), and tremor severity -0.79 (p = 0.007) at 12 weeks. Furthermore, the patients that received BoNT-A showed a reduction in activation within the IPL (p = 0.034), but not in the SMC. The change in IPL activation correlated with the reduction in tremor severity from baseline to 12 weeks (β = 0.608; p = 0.015) in the BoNT-A group. No tremor and fMRI changes were seen in the placebo treated group.

Conclusion: We have shown that reduction in MS-tremor severity after intramuscular injection with BoNT-A is associated with changes in brain activity in sensorimotor integration regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.101984DOI Listing
May 2020

Comparison of the effectiveness of a tailored cognitive behavioural therapy with a supportive listening intervention for depression in those newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (the ACTION-MS trial): protocol of an assessor-blinded, active comparator, randomised controlled trial.

Trials 2020 01 20;21(1):100. Epub 2020 Jan 20.

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, chronic neurological disease accompanied with high rates of depression and anxiety, particularly in the early stages of diagnosis. There is evidence to suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is effective for the treatment of depression amongst individuals with MS; however, there is a paucity of tailored CBT interventions designed to be offered in the newly diagnosed period. This trial is the first to assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a tailored CBT intervention compared to a supportive listening (SL) intervention amongst individuals with MS who are depressed.

Methods: ACTION-MS is a two-arm parallel group, assessor-blinded, active comparator, randomised controlled trial which will test whether a tailored CBT-based intervention compared to an SL intervention can reduce depression and related factors such as anxiety, fatigue, pain and sleep problems in those newly diagnosed with MS. Sixty participants who are within 5 years of having received a diagnosis of MS and scored within the mild to moderate range of depression on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) will be recruited from MS clinics located across three hospital sites in Melbourne, Australia. The primary outcome is depression severity using the BDI-II at post-assessment. Intervention satisfaction and acceptability will be assessed. A cost-effectiveness analysis will also be conducted. Data will be analysed on an intention-to-treat basis.

Discussion: There is a scarcity of psychological interventions for depression targeting the newly diagnosed period. However, interventions during this time point have the potential to have a major impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of those newly diagnosed with MS. The current trial will provide data on the effectiveness of a tailored CBT intervention for the treatment of depression in those newly diagnosed with MS. Findings will also provide effect size estimates that can be used to power a later-stage multi-centre trial of treatment efficacy, and will provide information on the mechanisms underlying any treatment effects and cost-effectiveness data for delivering this intervention in outpatient MS clinics.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN trials registry, ISRCTN63987586. Current controlled trials. Retrospectively registered on 20 October 2017.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-4018-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971867PMC
January 2020

Addressing the treatment gap in MS-associated tremor: A new door opens.

Mult Scler 2020 06 16;26(7):858. Epub 2019 Oct 16.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Department of Neurology, MSNI Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519880453DOI Listing
June 2020

Characterization of the human myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody response in demyelination.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2019 09 3;7(1):145. Epub 2019 Sep 3.

Brain Autoimmunity Group, Kids Neuroscience Centre, Kids Research at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Sydney, NSW, 2145, Australia.

Over recent years, human autoantibodies targeting myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG Ab) have been associated with monophasic and relapsing central nervous system demyelination involving the optic nerves, spinal cord, and brain. While the clinical relevance of MOG Ab detection is becoming increasingly clear as therapeutic and prognostic differences from multiple sclerosis are acknowledged, an in-depth characterization of human MOG Ab is required to answer key challenges in patient diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Herein, we investigated the epitope, binding sensitivity, and affinity of MOG Ab in a cohort of 139 and 148 MOG antibody-seropositive children and adults (n = 287 patients at baseline, 130 longitudinal samples, and 22 cerebrospinal fluid samples). MOG extracellular domain was also immobilized to determine the affinity of MOG Ab. MOG Ab response was of immunoglobulin G1 isotype, and was of peripheral rather than intrathecal origin. High affinity MOG Ab were detected in 15% paediatric and 18% adult sera. More than 75% of paediatric and adult MOG Ab targeted a dominant extracellular antigenic region around Proline42. MOG Ab titers fluctuated over the progression of disease, but affinity and reactivity to Proline42 remained stable. Adults with a relapsing course intrinsically presented with a reduced immunoreactivity to Proline42 and had a more diverse MOG Ab response, a feature that may be harnessed for predicting relapse. Higher titers of MOG Ab were observed in more severe phenotypes and during active disease, supporting the pathogenic role of MOG Ab. Loss of MOG Ab seropositivity was observed upon conformational changes to MOG, and this greatly impacted the sensitivity of the detection of relapsing disorders, largely considered as more severe. Careful consideration of the binding characteristics of autoantigens should be taken into account when detecting disease-relevant autoantibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-019-0786-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6724269PMC
September 2019

Pregnancy and multiple sclerosis: Clinical effects across the lifespan.

Autoimmun Rev 2019 Oct 8;18(10):102360. Epub 2019 Aug 8.

Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia; Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, MSNI Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is commonly diagnosed in women of childbearing age. Having a greater understanding of the effects of pregnancy on the course of MS will lead to improved family-planning counselling for women. We found well-established evidence for a protective effect of pregnancy on relapse occurrence in historical cohorts. More recent studies suggest that the protective effect of pregnancy against relapse may be lost in those women with more active disease treated with high efficacy therapies. Furthermore, a strong body of evidence suggests that gravidity after diagnosis of MS does not lead to worse long-term outcomes. More contentious however, is whether pregnancy can delay a first episode of demyelination or a confirmed diagnosis of MS. This review provides a detailed analysis of the literature relating to the clinical effects of pregnancy on MS outcomes across a woman's reproductive lifespan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2019.102360DOI Listing
October 2019

Risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: A longitudinal study.

Mult Scler 2020 01 9;26(1):79-90. Epub 2019 Aug 9.

CORe, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/L4 Centre, Melbourne Brain Centre at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Background: The risk factors for conversion from relapsing-remitting to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis remain highly contested.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the demographic, clinical and paraclinical features that influence the risk of conversion to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Patients with adult-onset relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and at least four recorded disability scores were selected from MSBase, a global observational cohort. The risk of conversion to objectively defined secondary progressive multiple sclerosis was evaluated at multiple time points per patient using multivariable marginal Cox regression models. Sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: A total of 15,717 patients were included in the primary analysis. Older age (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.02,  < 0.001), longer disease duration (HR = 1.01,  = 0.038), a higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score (HR = 1.30,  < 0.001), more rapid disability trajectory (HR = 2.82,  < 0.001) and greater number of relapses in the previous year (HR = 1.07,  = 0.010) were independently associated with an increased risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Improving disability (HR = 0.62,  = 0.039) and disease-modifying therapy exposure (HR = 0.71,  = 0.007) were associated with a lower risk. Recent cerebral magnetic resonance imaging activity, evidence of spinal cord lesions and oligoclonal bands in the cerebrospinal fluid were not associated with the risk of conversion.

Conclusion: Risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis increases with age, duration of illness and worsening disability and decreases with improving disability. Therapy may delay the onset of secondary progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519868990DOI Listing
January 2020

Early imaging predictors of longer term multiple sclerosis risk and severity in acute optic neuritis.

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2019 Jul-Sep;5(3):2055217319863122. Epub 2019 Jul 23.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Australia.

Background: Biomarkers are urgently required for predicting the likely progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) at the earliest stages of the disease to aid in personalised therapy.

Objective: We aimed to examine early brain volumetric and microstructural changes and retinal nerve fibre layer thinning as predictors of longer term MS severity in patients with clinically isolated syndromes (CIS).

Methods: Lesion metrics, brain and regional atrophy, diffusion fractional anisotropy and retinal nerve fibre layer thickness were prospectively assessed in 36 patients with CIS over the first 12 months after presentation and compared with clinical outcomes at longer term follow-up [median (IQR) = 8.5 (7.8-8.9) years].

Results: In total, 25 (69%) patients converted to MS and had greater baseline lesion volume ( = 0.008) and number ( = 0.03)than CIS patients. Over the initial 12 months, new lesions ( = 0.0001), retinal nerve fibre layer thinning ( = 0.04) and ventricular enlargement ( = 0.03) were greater in MS than CIS patients. In MS patients, final Expanded Disability Status Scale score correlated with retinal nerve fibre layer thinning over the first 12 months (ρ = -0.67,  = 0.001).

Conclusions: Additional to lesion metrics, early measurements of fractional anisotropy and retinal nerve fibre layer thinning are informative about longer term clinical outcomes in CIS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2055217319863122DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6651676PMC
July 2019

The feasibility, reliability and concurrent validity of the MSReactor computerized cognitive screening tool in multiple sclerosis.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2019 12;12:1756286419859183. Epub 2019 Jul 12.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) cognitive tests are resource intensive and limited by practice effects that prevent frequent retesting. Brief, reliable and valid monitoring tools are urgently needed to detect subtle, subclinical cognitive changes in people with MS. Cognitive monitoring over time could contribute to a new definition of disease progression, supplementing routine clinical monitoring.

Methods: MSReactor is a web-based battery that measures psychomotor (processing) speed, visual attention and working memory, using simple reaction time tasks. Clinic-based tasks were completed at baseline and 6 monthly with home testing 1-3 monthly. Acceptability, quality of life, depression and anxiety surveys were completed. We studied its correlation with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, practice effects, test-retest reliability and the discriminative ability of MSReactor.

Results: A total of 450 people with MS were recruited over 18 months, with 81% opting to complete home-based testing. Most participants (96%) would be happy (or neutral) to repeat the tasks again and just four reported the tasks made them 'very anxious'. Persistence of home testing was high and practice effects stabilized within three tests. MSReactor tasks correlated with Symbol Digit Modalities Test scores and participants with MS performed slower than healthy controls.

Conclusion: MSReactor is a scalable and reliable cognitive screening tool that can be used in the clinic and remotely. MSReactor task performance correlated with another highly validated cognitive test, was sensitive to MS and baseline predictors of cognitive performance were identified.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756286419859183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628542PMC
July 2019

Family planning, antenatal and post partum care in multiple sclerosis: a review and update.

Med J Aust 2019 09 27;211(5):230-236. Epub 2019 Mar 27.

Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.

Multiple sclerosis is more prevalent in women of childbearing age than in any other group. As a result, the impact of multiple sclerosis and its treatment on fertility, planned and unplanned pregnancies, post partum care and breastfeeding presents unique challenges that need to be addressed in everyday clinical practice. Given the increasing number of disease-modifying agents now available in Australia for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, there is a growing need for clinicians to provide their patients with appropriate counselling on family planning. Providing better evidence regarding the relative risks and benefits of continuing therapy before, during and after pregnancy is an important research priority. International pregnancy registries are essential in developing better evidence-based practice guidelines, and neurologists should be encouraged to contribute to these when possible. The management of women with multiple sclerosis, especially when they are taking disease-modifying agents, requires careful assessment of fertility and disease characteristics as well as a multidisciplinary approach to ensure positive outcomes in both mothers and their children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50113DOI Listing
September 2019

Functional neuroplasticity in response to cerebello-thalamic injury underpins the clinical presentation of tremor in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2020 05 25;26(6):696-705. Epub 2019 Mar 25.

Department of Medicine and Radiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia/Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Background: Tremor is present in almost half of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The lack of understanding of its pathophysiology is hampering progress in development of treatments.

Objectives: To clarify the structural and functional brain changes associated with the clinical phenotype of upper limb tremor in people with MS.

Methods: Fifteen healthy controls (46.1 ± 15.4 years), 27 MS participants without tremor (46.7 ± 11.6 years) and 42 with tremor (46.6 ± 11.5 years) were included. Tremor was quantified using the Bain score (0-10) for overall severity, handwriting and Archimedes spiral drawing. Functional magnetic resonance imaging activations were compared between participants groups during performance of a joystick task designed to isolate tremulous movement. Inflammation and atrophy of cerebello-thalamo-cortical brain structures were quantified.

Results: Tremor participants were found to have atrophy of the cerebellum and thalamus, and higher ipsilateral cerebellar lesion load compared to participants without tremor ( < 0.020). We found higher ipsilateral activation in the inferior parietal lobule, the premotor cortex and supplementary motor area in MS tremor participants compared to MS participants without tremor during the joystick task. Finally, stronger activation in those areas was associated with lower tremor severity.

Conclusion: Subcortical neurodegeneration and inflammation along the cerebello-thalamo-cortical and cortical functional neuroplasticity contribute to the severity of tremor in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519837706DOI Listing
May 2020

Real-World Characterization of Dimethyl Fumarate-Related Gastrointestinal Events in Multiple Sclerosis: Management Strategies to Improve Persistence on Treatment and Patient Outcomes.

Neurol Ther 2019 Jun 31;8(1):109-119. Epub 2019 Jan 31.

Department of Neurology, Inselspital-Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Introduction: Delayed-release dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). Some patients experience gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (AEs) that may lead to premature DMF discontinuation. This study characterized the impact of site-specific GI management strategies on the occurrence of GI events and discontinuation patterns.

Methods: Data on GI events and DMF persistence were retrospectively abstracted from medical records of patients treated with DMF in routine medical practice in the EFFECT study (NCT02776072). GI management strategies were assessed via a study site questionnaire. Discontinuation rates were analyzed according to counseling patterns.

Results: Of 826 DMF-treated patients at 66 sites, 809 from 65 sites were eligible for the GI analysis; of these, 27% experienced GI AEs. Within 1 year of treatment, 14% (118/826) of patients discontinued DMF, 5% (44/809) due to GI events. Most sites (92%) reported that patients were very likely (> 75% of the time) to be counseled about GI events at/before DMF treatment initiation and/or to be recommended that DMF be taken with food (86%); 48% of sites reported to be very likely to recommend using symptomatic therapies for GI AEs. Lower discontinuation rates were reported at sites very likely versus not very likely (≤ 75% of the time) to (1) provide counseling; (2) provide specific details regarding GI events; or (3) recommend taking DMF with food, and/or using symptomatic GI therapies.

Conclusion: Counseling and other GI management strategies at initiation of DMF treatment appear to reduce the burden of GI events, and a variety of GI management strategies may improve DMF persistence.

Trial Registration: NCT02776072.

Funding: Biogen (Cambridge, MA, USA).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40120-019-0127-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534646PMC
June 2019

Incidence of pregnancy and disease-modifying therapy exposure trends in women with multiple sclerosis: A contemporary cohort study.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2019 Feb 3;28:235-243. Epub 2019 Jan 3.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Medicine (Royal Melbourne Hospital), University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Exposure to disease-modifying therapy (DMT) during early pregnancy in women with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) may be increasing.

Objective: To retrospectively determine incidence of pregnancy, DMT exposure and pregnancy outcomes in women with RRMS.

Methods: We identified all women with RRMS aged 15-45 years in the MSBase Registry between 2005-2016. Annualised pregnancy incidence rates were calculated using Poisson regression models. DMT exposures and pregnancy outcomes were assessed.

Results: Of 9,098 women meeting inclusion criteria, 1,178 (13%) women recorded 1,521 pregnancies. The annualised incidence rate of pregnancy was 0.042 (95% CI 0.040, 0.045). A total of 635 (42%) reported pregnancies were conceived on DMT, increasing from 27% in 2006 to 62% in 2016. The median duration of DMT exposure during pregnancy was 30 days (IQR: 9, 50). There were a higher number of induced abortions on FDA pregnancy class C/D drugs compared with pregnancy class B and no DMT (p = 0.010); but no differences in spontaneous abortions, term or preterm births.

Conclusions: We report low pregnancy incidence rates, with increasing number of pregnancies conceived on DMT over the past 12-years. The median duration of DMT exposure in pregnancy was relatively short at one month.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2019.01.003DOI Listing
February 2019