Publications by authors named "Dana Horakova"

101 Publications

Approaches and challenges in the diagnosis and management of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: A Central Eastern European perspective from healthcare professionals.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Jan 28;50:102778. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Department of Neurology University Medical Center Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is a debilitating condition characterized by gradual worsening after an initial relapsing disease course. Despite the recent advances in our understanding of the disease, the diagnosis and treatment of SPMS continue to be challenging in routine clinical practice. The aim of this review article is to present the views of leading MS experts on the challenges in the diagnosis and management of SPMS and clinicians' perspectives in Central and Eastern Europe. This article also provides recommendations of MS experts to improve the situation with diagnosis and management of SPMS. Many countries within Central and Eastern Europe have high prevalence of MS (>100 per 100,000 population). Consistent with the global trend, in the absence of reliable tests or biomarkers, SPMS at early stage remains undiagnosed. Due to diagnostic uncertainty and lack of a universally accepted disease definition, clinicians rely more on retrospective analysis of the clinical symptoms to confirm the diagnosis. With the lack of awareness and poor understanding of the timing of the onset of SPMS, clinicians may tend to direct attention to relapses than the symptoms of progression, which leads to underestimation of SPMS. Although several predictors of progression to SPMS have been identified, their predictive value is highly variable. Therefore, defining the transitioning period as a separate stage of MS is essential. According to experts' opinion, frequent follow-up of patients and periodic assessment of progression are recommended for the timely identification of patients transitioning from RRMS to SPMS. MSProDiscuss Tool is an example of a quick assessment tool for identifying patients progressing from RRMS to SPMS. MS progression is usually assessed by changes in Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores. As EDSS scores tend to fluctuate when measured in the short term (3-6 months), a longer period (≥12 months) may be needed to confirm the progression. Assessment of cognitive function is also important for evaluating secondary progression. Compartmentalization of inflammation within the central nervous system is an important reason behind the limited success of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for treating SPMS. Most of the DMTs fail to cross the blood-brain barrier; only 38% of the tested DMTs achieved their primary endpoint in SPMS. In Europe, siponimod is the first oral treatment for adults with active SPMS. Particularly, in Central and Eastern Europe, patients with SPMS are still being prescribed less efficacious DMTs and interferons. The absence of alternative treatments in SPMS supports the use of new products (siponimod and others); however the decision to initiate siponimod therapy in more severe patients (EDSS score of 7 or higher) should be individualized in consultation with the payers. The focus should be on early treatment initiation to delay disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2021.102778DOI Listing
January 2021

Determinants of therapeutic lag in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2021 Jan 11:1352458520981300. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Melbourne MS Centre, Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: A delayed onset of treatment effect, termed therapeutic lag, may influence the assessment of treatment response in some patient subgroups.

Objectives: The objective of this study is to explore the associations of patient and disease characteristics with therapeutic lag on relapses and disability accumulation.

Methods: Data from MSBase, a multinational multiple sclerosis (MS) registry, and OFSEP, the French MS registry, were used. Patients diagnosed with MS, minimum 1 year of exposure to MS treatment and 3 years of pre-treatment follow-up, were included in the analysis. Studied outcomes were incidence of relapses and disability accumulation. Therapeutic lag was calculated using an objective, validated method in subgroups stratified by patient and disease characteristics. Therapeutic lag under specific circumstances was then estimated in subgroups defined by combinations of clinical and demographic determinants.

Results: High baseline disability scores, annualised relapse rate (ARR) ⩾ 1 and male sex were associated with longer therapeutic lag on disability progression in sufficiently populated groups: females with expanded disability status scale (EDSS) < 6 and ARR < 1 had mean lag of 26.6 weeks (95% CI = 18.2-34.9), males with EDSS < 6 and ARR < 1 31.0 weeks (95% CI = 25.3-36.8), females with EDSS < 6 and ARR ⩾ 1 44.8 weeks (95% CI = 24.5-65.1), and females with EDSS ⩾ 6 and ARR < 1 54.3 weeks (95% CI = 47.2-61.5).

Conclusions: Pre-treatment EDSS and ARR are the most important determinants of therapeutic lag.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520981300DOI Listing
January 2021

Proportion of alemtuzumab-treated patients converting from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis over 6 years.

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2020 Oct-Dec;6(4):2055217320972137. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Center of Clinical Neuroscience, Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital, Dresden, Germany Employees of Sanofi during study conduct and analysis.

Background: Few data exist concerning conversion to secondary progressive MS in patients treated with disease-modifying therapies.

Objective: Determine the proportion of alemtuzumab-treated patients converting from relapsing-remitting to secondary progressive MS during the CARE-MS core and extension studies.

Methods: Patients ( = 811) were analyzed post hoc for secondary progressive MS conversion. Optimal conversion definition: Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ≥4, pyramidal functional system score ≥2, and confirmed progression over ≥3 months including confirmation within the functional system leading to progression, independent of relapse.

Results: Over 6.2 years median follow-up, 20 alemtuzumab-treated patients converted (Kaplan-Meier estimate, 2.7%; 95% confidence interval, 1.8%-4.2%). Sensitivity analysis accounting for dropouts showed similar results (3%), as did analyses using alternative definitions with different EDSS thresholds and/or confirmation periods, and analysis of core study subcutaneous interferon beta-1a-treated patients who received alemtuzumab in the extension. Patients converting to secondary progressive MS were older, and had higher EDSS scores and greater brain lesion volumes at baseline, but did not need additional alemtuzumab or other therapies.

Conclusions: The 6-year conversion rate to secondary progressive MS was low for alemtuzumab-treated patients, supporting further study of the role alemtuzumab may play in reducing risk of secondary progression. NCT00530348, NCT00548405, NCT00930553.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2055217320972137DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7750777PMC
December 2020

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
February 2021

Factors influencing daily treatment choices in multiple sclerosis: practice guidelines, biomarkers and burden of disease.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2020 7;13:1756286420975223. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic.

At two meetings of a Central European board of multiple sclerosis (MS) experts in 2018 and 2019 factors influencing daily treatment choices in MS, especially practice guidelines, biomarkers and burden of disease, were discussed. The heterogeneity of MS and the complexity of the available treatment options call for informed treatment choices. However, evidence from clinical trials is generally lacking, particularly regarding sequencing, switches and escalation of drugs. Also, there is a need to identify patients who require highly efficacious treatment from the onset of their disease to prevent deterioration. The recently published European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis/European Academy of Neurology clinical practice guidelines on pharmacological management of MS cover aspects such as treatment efficacy, response criteria, strategies to address suboptimal response and safety concerns and are based on expert consensus statements. However, the recommendations constitute an excellent framework that should be adapted to local regulations, MS center capacities and infrastructure. Further, available and emerging biomarkers for treatment guidance were discussed. Magnetic resonance imaging parameters are deemed most reliable at present, even though complex assessment including clinical evaluation and laboratory parameters besides imaging is necessary in clinical routine. Neurofilament-light chain levels appear to represent the current most promising non-imaging biomarker. Other immunological data, including issues of immunosenescence, will play an increasingly important role for future treatment algorithms. Cognitive impairment has been recognized as a major contribution to MS disease burden. Regular evaluation of cognitive function is recommended in MS patients, although no specific disease-modifying treatment has been defined to date. Finally, systematic documentation of real-life data is recognized as a great opportunity to tackle unresolved daily routine challenges, such as use of sequential therapies, but requires joint efforts across clinics, governments and pharmaceutical companies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756286420975223DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7724259PMC
December 2020

Interpretation of Brain Volume Increase in Multiple Sclerosis.

J Neuroimaging 2020 Dec 13. Epub 2020 Dec 13.

Department of Radiology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General, University Hospital in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background And Purpose: A high variability of brain MRI volume change measurement renders challenging its interpretation in multiple sclerosis (MS). Occurrence and clinical relevance of observed apparent brain volume increase (BVI) in MS patients have not been investigated yet. The objective was to quantify the prevalence and factors associated with BVI.

Methods: We examined 366 MS patients (2,317 scans) and 44 controls (132 scans). Volumetric analysis of brain volume changes was performed by SIENA and ScanView. BVI was defined as brain volume change >0%. We compared characteristics of patients with and without BVI.

Results: BVI was found in 26.3% (from 1,951) longitudinal scans (SIENA). If BVI occurred, a probability that BVI will be repeated consecutively more than or equal to two times was 15.9%. The repeated BVI was associated with clinical disease activity in 50% of cases. BVI was associated with shorter time and lower T2 lesion volume increase between two MRI scans, and higher normalized brain volume (all P < .0001). A proportion of scans with BVI was higher when analyzed by ScanView (35.3%) and in controls (36.4% by SIENA).

Conclusions: BVI occurs in a great proportion of MR scans over short-term follow-up and is not associated with disease stabilization. Although BVI can be caused by several factors, the results indicate that measurement error may contribute to BVI in the majority of cases. Clinicians should be aware of the frequent occurrence of apparent BVI, interpret brain volume changes in MS patients with great caution, and use methods with precise quantification of brain volume changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jon.12816DOI Listing
December 2020

Long-term effectiveness of natalizumab on MRI outcomes and no evidence of disease activity in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients treated in a Czech Republic real-world setting: A longitudinal, retrospective study.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Nov 28;46:102543. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Radiology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated in real-world settings are important for understanding disease-modifying therapy effects, including no evidence of disease activity (NEDA) assessment. This longitudinal, retrospective, single-cohort analysis assessed MRI and clinical disease outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting MS treated with natalizumab for up to 5 years in Prague, the Czech Republic.

Methods: The primary study endpoint was the proportion of patients free of new or enlarging fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) lesions after at least 2 years of natalizumab treatment. Secondary endpoints included percentage brain volume change over time, the number of new T1-hypointense lesions that persisted for ≥6 months, FLAIR and T1-hypointense lesion volume change over time, and the proportion of patients with NEDA-3 (defined as no relapses, no confirmed disability worsening, and no new or enlarging FLAIR lesions).

Results: A total of 193 patients were included in the study. During year 1 of natalizumab treatment, 78.9% of patients had no new or enlarging FLAIR lesions and 79.5% had no new T1 lesions. These proportions increased in years 2-5, with ≥98.0% of patients free of new or enlarging FLAIR lesions and ≥98.8% free of new T1 lesions. During year 1 on natalizumab, 52.2% of patients achieved NEDA-3; this proportion increased to ≥69.2% in years 2-5.

Conclusion: This study provides additional evidence that long-term MS disease activity, as measured by both MRI activity and NEDA-3, is well-controlled in patients treated with natalizumab in real-world settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102543DOI Listing
November 2020

The weak association between neurofilament levels at multiple sclerosis onset and cognitive performance after 9 years.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Nov 28;46:102534. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital, Katerinska 30, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic. Electronic address:

Background: Neurofilament light chain level in serum (sNfL) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF-NfL) is a promising biomarker of disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, predictive value of neurofilaments for development of cognitive decline over long-term follow-up has not been extensively studied.

Objective: To investigate the relationship between early neurofilament levels and cognitive performance after 9-years.

Methods: We included 58 MS patients from the SET study. sNfL levels were measured at screening, at 1 and 2 years. CSF-NfL were measured in 36 patients at screening. Cognitive performance was assessed by the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis and the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test-3 s at baseline, at 1, 2 and 9 years. Association between neurofilament levels and cognition was analyzed using Spearman´s correlation, logistic regression and mixed models.

Results: We did not observe associations among early sNfL levels and cross-sectional or longitudinal cognitive measures, except of a trend for association between higher sNfL levels at screening and lower California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II) scores at year 1 (rho=-0.31, unadjusted p = 0.028). Higher sNfL level was not associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, except of a trend for greater risk of CVLT-II decrease in patients with higher sNfL levels at 1 year (OR=15.8; 95% CI=1.7-147.0; unadjusted p = 0.015). Similar trends were observed for CSF-NfL.

Conclusion: We found only weak association between sNfL levels at disease onset and evolution of cognitive performance over long-term follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102534DOI Listing
November 2020

Treatment Response Score to Glatiramer Acetate or Interferon Beta-1a.

Neurology 2021 01 6;96(2):e214-e227. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

From the Department of Health Sciences (DISSAL) (F.B., M.P.S.), University of Genoa, Italy; CORe (T.K., C.M.), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology (F.L.), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; Department of Biostatistics (G.C.), University of Alabama at Birmingham; Department of Neurology and Center for Clinical Neuroscience (D.H., E.K.H.), First Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs (M. Trojano), University of Bari, Italy; Department of Neuroscience (A.P., M.G., P.D.), Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Department of Neuroscience, Imaging, and Clinical Sciences (M.O.), University G. d'Annunzio, Chieti; IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna (A.L.); Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Neuromotorie (A.L.), Università di Bologna, Italy; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G. Izquierdo. S.E.), Sevilla, Spain; Department of Medical, Surgical Science and Advanced Technology "GF Ingrassia" (F.P.), University of Catania, Italy; Ondokuz Mayis University (M. Terzi), Department of Neurology, Samsun, Turkey; CISSS Chaudi're-Appalache (P.G.), Centre-Hospitalier, Levis, Quebec, Canada; IRCCS Mondino Foundation (R.B.), Pavia; Department of Neuroscience (P.S., D.F.), Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Modena, Italy; Department of Neurology (S.O.), Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey; Ospedali Riuniti di Salerno (G. Iuliano), Salerno, Italy; Department of Neurology (C.B.), Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey; Department of Neurology (R.H.), Zuyderland Medical Center, Sittard, the Netherlands; Neuro Rive-Sud (F.G.), Hôpital Charles LeMoyne, Greenfield Park, Quebec, Canada; Clinico San Carlos (C.O.-G), Madrid, Spain; Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc (V.v.P.); Université Catholique de Louvain (V.v.P.), Brussels, Belgium; UOC Neurologia (E.C.), Azienda Sanitaria Unica Regionale Marche-AV3, Macerata, Italy; Kommunehospitalet (T.P.), Arhus C, Denmark; Koc University (A.A.), School of Medicine; Bakirkoy Education and Research Hospital for Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases (A.S.), Istanbul, Turkey; Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (C.R.-T.), Badalona, Spain; University of Queensland (P.M.), Brisbane, Australia; Haydarpasa Numune Training and Research Hospital (R.T.), Istanbul, Turkey; Central Clinical School (H.B.), Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (J.S.W.); Rehabilitation Unit (C.S.), "Mons. L. Novarese" Hospital, Moncrivello; and IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino (M.P.S.), Genoa, Italy.

Objective: To compare the effectiveness of glatiramer acetate (GA) vs intramuscular interferon beta-1a (IFN-β-1a), we applied a previously published statistical method aimed at identifying patients' profiles associated with efficacy of treatments.

Methods: Data from 2 independent multiple sclerosis datasets, a randomized study (the Combination Therapy in Patients With Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis [CombiRx] trial, evaluating GA vs IFN-β-1a) and an observational cohort extracted from MSBase, were used to build and validate a treatment response score, regressing annualized relapse rates (ARRs) on a set of baseline predictors.

Results: The overall ARR ratio of GA to IFN-β-1a in the CombiRx trial was 0.72. The response score (made up of a linear combination of age, sex, relapses in the previous year, disease duration, and Expanded Disability Status Scale score) detected differential response of GA vs IFN-β-1a: in the trial, patients with the largest benefit from GA vs IFN-β-1a (lower score quartile) had an ARR ratio of 0.40 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.63), those in the 2 middle quartiles of 0.90 (95% CI 0.61-1.34), and those in the upper quartile of 1.14 (95% CI 0.59-2.18) (heterogeneity = 0.012); this result was validated on MSBase, with the corresponding ARR ratios of 0.58 (95% CI 0.46-0.72), 0.92 (95% CI 0.77-1.09,) and 1.29 (95% CI 0.97-1.71); heterogeneity < 0.0001).

Conclusions: We demonstrate the possibility of a criterion, based on patients' characteristics, to choose whether to treat with GA or IFN-β-1a. This result, replicated on an independent real-life cohort, may have implications for clinical decisions in everyday clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000010991DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7905777PMC
January 2021

Delay from treatment start to full effect of immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2020 09;143(9):2742-2756

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 3050, Australia.

In multiple sclerosis, treatment start or switch is prompted by evidence of disease activity. Whilst immunomodulatory therapies reduce disease activity, the time required to attain maximal effect is unclear. In this study we aimed to develop a method that allows identification of the time to manifest fully and clinically the effect of multiple sclerosis treatments ('therapeutic lag') on clinical disease activity represented by relapses and progression-of-disability events. Data from two multiple sclerosis registries, MSBase (multinational) and OFSEP (French), were used. Patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, minimum 1-year exposure to treatment, minimum 3-year pretreatment follow-up and yearly review were included in the analysis. For analysis of disability progression, all events in the subsequent 5-year period were included. Density curves, representing incidence of relapses and 6-month confirmed progression events, were separately constructed for each sufficiently represented therapy. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to identify the first local minimum of the first derivative after treatment start; this point represented the point of stabilization of treatment effect, after the maximum treatment effect was observed. The method was developed in a discovery cohort (MSBase), and externally validated in a separate, non-overlapping cohort (OFSEP). A merged MSBase-OFSEP cohort was used for all subsequent analyses. Annualized relapse rates were compared in the time before treatment start and after the stabilization of treatment effect following commencement of each therapy. We identified 11 180 eligible treatment epochs for analysis of relapses and 4088 treatment epochs for disability progression. External validation was performed in four therapies, with no significant difference in the bootstrapped mean differences in therapeutic lag duration between registries. The duration of therapeutic lag for relapses was calculated for 10 therapies and ranged between 12 and 30 weeks. The duration of therapeutic lag for disability progression was calculated for seven therapies and ranged between 30 and 70 weeks. Significant differences in the pre- versus post-treatment annualized relapse rate were present for all therapies apart from intramuscular interferon beta-1a. In conclusion we have developed, and externally validated, a method to objectively quantify the duration of therapeutic lag on relapses and disability progression in different therapies in patients more than 3 years from multiple sclerosis onset. Objectively defined periods of expected therapeutic lag allows insights into the evaluation of treatment response in randomized clinical trials and may guide clinical decision-making in patients who experience early on-treatment disease activity. This method will subsequently be applied in studies that evaluate the effect of patient and disease characteristics on therapeutic lag.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa231DOI Listing
September 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

Neuroprotective associations of apolipoproteins A-I and A-II with neurofilament levels in early multiple sclerosis.

J Clin Lipidol 2020 Sep - Oct;14(5):675-684.e2. Epub 2020 Jul 9.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA; Department of Neurology, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Background: The role of cholesterol homeostasis in neuroaxonal injury in multiple sclerosis is not known.

Objective: The objective of the study is to investigate the associations of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum neurofilament light chain levels (CSF-NfL and sNfL, respectively), which are biomarkers of neuroaxonal injury, with cholesterol biomarkers at the clinical onset of multiple sclerosis.

Methods: sNfL, serum cholesterol profile (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), serum apolipoprotein (Apo) levels (ApoA-I, ApoA-II, ApoB, and ApoE), and albumin quotient were obtained for 133 patients (63% female, age: 29.9 ± 8.0 years) during the first demyelinating event. CSF-NfL was available for 103 (77%) patients.

Results: CSF-NfL and sNfL were negatively associated with serum ApoA-II (P = .005, P < .001) and positively associated with albumin quotient (P < .001, P < .0001). In addition, higher CSF-NfL was associated with lower serum ApoA-I (P = .009) levels and higher sNfL was associated with lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P = .010). In stepwise regression, age (P = .045), serum ApoA-II (P = .022), and albumin quotient (P < .001) were associated with CSF-NfL; albumin quotient (P = .002) and ApoA-II (P = .001) were associated with sNfL. Path analysis identified parallel pathways from ApoA-II (P = .009) and albumin quotient (P < .001) to the sNfL outcome that were mediated by CSF-NfL (P < .001). The associations of CSF-NfL with ApoA-I (P = .014) and ApoA-II (P = .015) and sNfL with ApoA-II (P < .001) remained significant after adjusting for number of contrast-enhancing lesions and T2 lesion volume.

Conclusion: Lower serum ApoA-II and ApoA-I levels are associated with greater neuroaxonal injury as measured by CSF-NfL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacl.2020.07.001DOI Listing
July 2020

Association of Sustained Immunotherapy With Disability Outcomes in Patients With Active Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

JAMA Neurol 2020 Jul 27. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

Clinical Outcomes Research Unit (CORe), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Importance: It is unclear whether relapses and disease-modifying therapies are associated with the rate of disability accumulation in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).

Objective: To examine the association of relapses with the rate of disability accumulation in patients with SPMS and to assess whether treatment before or during the secondary progressive phase can slow the progression of disability accumulation.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this observational cohort study, patient data were prospectively collected from the MSBase international registry between January 1, 1995, and February 1, 2018. Among 53 680 patients in the MSBase registry, 4997 patients with SPMS (using the Lorscheider definition) were identified. Of those, 1621 patients were eligible for study inclusion based on sufficient follow-up before and after the onset of SPMS. Data were analyzed from November 15, 2017, to January 13, 2020.

Exposures: The association between disability accumulation and several clinical and demographic variables, including relapses and exposure to immunotherapy, was evaluated.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Two outcomes were analyzed as measures of disability accumulation during SPMS: the rate of disability accumulation during the secondary progressive phase (change relative to the reference population of patients with MS and absolute change) and the risk of becoming wheelchair dependent. A third outcome, the cumulative risk of experiencing confirmed disability progression events, was used for a secondary analysis. Outcomes were evaluated using multivariable mixed models (ie, linear and Cox models).

Results: Of 1621 patients eligible for inclusion, 1103 patients (68.0%) were female, with a mean (SD) age at MS onset of 33.9 (10.6) years. A total of 661 patients (40.8%) experienced superimposed relapses during SPMS. Therapy receipt and relapses during early relapsing-remitting MS were not associated with disability accumulation during the secondary progressive phase. Higher relapse rates during the secondary progressive disease stage were associated with an increased risk of becoming wheelchair dependent (hazard ratio [HR], 1.87; 95% CI, 1.17-3.00; P = .009). Among patients who experienced superimposed relapses during SPMS, greater receipt of disease-modifying therapies was significantly associated with a reduced rate of disability progression and a lower risk of becoming wheelchair dependent.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this study, the rate of disability progression after the onset of SPMS was not associated with the early disease course and treatment decisions. Relapses during SPMS were associated with accelerated disability progression and represent an accessible treatment target. Disease-modifying therapy was associated with improvements in disability outcomes among patients with active relapses during SPMS. The study's results suggest that inflammatory disease activity remains a substantial yet modifiable component of SPMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.2453DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7385679PMC
July 2020

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

Mult Scler 2020 Jun 15:1352458520926955. 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
June 2020

Deep Gray Matter Iron Content in Neuromyelitis Optica and Multiple Sclerosis.

Biomed Res Int 2020 19;2020:6492786. Epub 2020 May 19.

Department of Radiology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital in Prague, Katerinska 32, Prague 128 08, Czech Republic.

Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are often presenting with overlapping symptoms. The aim of this study was to determine whether and how NMO and MS differ regarding cerebral iron deposits in deep gray matter (DGM) and the correlation between iron deposition and clinical severity as well as to regional atrophy of the DGM.

Methods: We analyzed 20 patients with NMO, 40 patients with a relapsing-remitting (RR) form of MS, and 20 healthy controls with 1.5T MRI. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) was performed to estimate iron concentration in the DGM.

Results: Patients with NMO have higher magnetic susceptibility values in the substantia nigra compared to healthy controls. RRMS patients have lower magnetic susceptibility values in the thalamus compared to healthy controls and NMO patients. Atrophy of the thalamus, pulvinar, and putamen is significant both in RRMS compared to NMO patients and healthy controls. A correlation was found between the disability score (EDSS) and magnetic susceptibility in the putamen in RRMS.

Conclusions: This study confirms that a disturbed cerebral iron homeostasis in patients with NMO occurs in different structures than in patients with RRMS. Increased magnetic susceptibility in substantia nigra in NMO and decreased magnetic susceptibility within the thalamus in RRMS were the only significant differences in the study sample. We could confirm that iron concentration in the thalami is decreased in RRMS compared to that in the HC group. Positive association was found between putaminal iron and EDSS in RRMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2020/6492786DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7254083PMC
May 2020

Early clinical markers of aggressive multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2020 05;143(5):1400-1413

CORe Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Patients with the 'aggressive' form of multiple sclerosis accrue disability at an accelerated rate, typically reaching Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) ≥ 6 within 10 years of symptom onset. Several clinicodemographic factors have been associated with aggressive multiple sclerosis, but less research has focused on clinical markers that are present in the first year of disease. The development of early predictive models of aggressive multiple sclerosis is essential to optimize treatment in this multiple sclerosis subtype. We evaluated whether patients who will develop aggressive multiple sclerosis can be identified based on early clinical markers. We then replicated this analysis in an independent cohort. Patient data were obtained from the MSBase observational study. Inclusion criteria were (i) first recorded disability score (EDSS) within 12 months of symptom onset; (ii) at least two recorded EDSS scores; and (iii) at least 10 years of observation time, based on time of last recorded EDSS score. Patients were classified as having 'aggressive multiple sclerosis' if all of the following criteria were met: (i) EDSS ≥ 6 reached within 10 years of symptom onset; (ii) EDSS ≥ 6 confirmed and sustained over ≥6 months; and (iii) EDSS ≥ 6 sustained until the end of follow-up. Clinical predictors included patient variables (sex, age at onset, baseline EDSS, disease duration at first visit) and recorded relapses in the first 12 months since disease onset (count, pyramidal signs, bowel-bladder symptoms, cerebellar signs, incomplete relapse recovery, steroid administration, hospitalization). Predictors were evaluated using Bayesian model averaging. Independent validation was performed using data from the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry. Of the 2403 patients identified, 145 were classified as having aggressive multiple sclerosis (6%). Bayesian model averaging identified three statistical predictors: age > 35 at symptom onset, EDSS ≥ 3 in the first year, and the presence of pyramidal signs in the first year. This model significantly predicted aggressive multiple sclerosis [area under the curve (AUC) = 0.80, 95% confidence intervals (CIs): 0.75, 0.84, positive predictive value = 0.15, negative predictive value = 0.98]. The presence of all three signs was strongly predictive, with 32% of such patients meeting aggressive disease criteria. The absence of all three signs was associated with a 1.4% risk. Of the 556 eligible patients in the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry cohort, 34 (6%) met criteria for aggressive multiple sclerosis. The combination of all three signs was also predictive in this cohort (AUC = 0.75, 95% CIs: 0.66, 0.84, positive predictive value = 0.15, negative predictive value = 0.97). Taken together, these findings suggest that older age at symptom onset, greater disability during the first year, and pyramidal signs in the first year are early indicators of aggressive multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa081DOI Listing
May 2020

Monitoring of radiologic disease activity by serum neurofilaments in MS.

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm 2020 07 9;7(4). Epub 2020 Apr 9.

From the Department of Medicine (T.U., T.K.), CORe, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience (T.U., B.S., M.T., K.V., E.K.H., D.H.), Charles University in Prague, 1st Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic; Clinical Trial Unit (S.S., P.B.), Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel, University of Basel; Departments of Medicine, Biomedicine and Clinical Research (C.B., J.O., D.L., Y.N., L.K., J. Kuhle), Neurologic Clinic and Policlinic, University Hospital Basel, University of Basel, Switzerland; Department of Neurology, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (N.B., M.D., R.Z.), Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo; IRCCS "S. Maria Nascente" (N.B.), Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation, Milan, Italy; Department of Radiology (J. Krasensky, M.V.), Charles University in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic; Center for Biomedical Imaging at Clinical Translational Science Institute (R.Z.), University at Buffalo, State University of New York, NY; and Department of Neurology (T.K.), The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: To determine whether serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels are associated with recent MRI activity in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

Methods: This observational study included 163 patients (405 samples) with early RRMS from the Study of Early interferon-beta1a (IFN-β1a) Treatment (SET) cohort and 179 patients (664 samples) with more advanced RRMS from the Genome-Wide Association Study of Multiple Sclerosis (GeneMSA) cohort. Based on annual brain MRI, we assessed the ability of sNfL cutoffs to reflect the presence of combined unique active lesions, defined as new/enlarging lesion compared with MRI in the preceding year or contrast-enhancing lesion. The probability of active MRI lesions among patients with different sNfL levels was estimated with generalized estimating equations models.

Results: From the sNfL samples ≥90th percentile, 81.6% of the SET (OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.8-6.4) and 48.9% of the GeneMSA cohort samples (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.7-3.9) was associated with radiological disease activity on MRI. The sNfL level between the 10th and 30th percentile was reflective of negligible MRI activity: 1.4% (SET) and 6.5% (GeneMSA) of patients developed ≥3 active lesions, 5.8% (SET) and 6.5% (GeneMSA) developed ≥2 active lesions, and 34.8% (SET) and 11.8% (GeneMSA) showed ≥1 active lesion on brain MRI. The sNfL level <10th percentile was associated with even lower MRI activity. Similar results were found in a subgroup of clinically stable patients.

Conclusions: Low sNfL levels (≤30th percentile) help identify patients with MS with very low probability of recent radiologic disease activity during the preceding year. This result suggests that in future, sNfL assessment may substitute the need for annual brain MRI monitoring in considerable number (23.1%-36.4%) of visits in clinically stable patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXI.0000000000000714DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7176248PMC
July 2020

Neurofilament levels are associated with blood-brain barrier integrity, lymphocyte extravasation, and risk factors following the first demyelinating event in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2021 Feb 7;27(2):220-231. Epub 2020 Apr 7.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA/Department of Neurology, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA.

Background: Increased blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability, CNS inflammation and neuroaxonal damage are pathological hallmarks in early multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objective: To investigate the associations of neurofilament light chain (NfL) levels with measures of BBB integrity and central nervous system (CNS) inflammation in MS during the first demyelinating event.

Methods: Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were obtained from 142 MS (McDonald 2017) treatment-naive patients from the SET study (63% female; age: 29.7 ± 7.9 years) following the disease onset. NfL, albumin, immunoglobulin G (IgG), and immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels were measured in CSF and blood samples. Albumin quotient was computed as a marker of BBB integrity. Immune cell subset counts in CSF were measured using flow cytometry. MS risk factors, such as Human leukocyte antigen locus gene ()*1501, anti-Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibodies, and 25-hydroxy vitamin D, were also measured.

Results: Higher serum NfL (sNfL) levels were associated with higher albumin quotient ( < 0.001), CSF CD80+ ( = 0.012), and CD80+ CD19+ ( = 0.015) cell frequency. sNfL levels were also associated with contrast-enhancing and T2 lesions on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; all  ⩽ 0.001). Albumin quotient was not associated with any of the MS risk factors assessed. sNfL levels were associated with anti-EBV viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgG levels ( = 0.0026).

Conclusion: sNfL levels during the first demyelinating event of MS are associated with greater impairment of BBB integrity, immune cell extravasation, and brain lesion activity on MRI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520912379DOI Listing
February 2021

Timing of high-efficacy therapy for multiple sclerosis: a retrospective observational cohort study.

Lancet Neurol 2020 04 18;19(4):307-316. Epub 2020 Mar 18.

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: High-efficacy therapies in multiple sclerosis are traditionally used after unsuccessful treatment with first-line disease modifying therapies. We hypothesised that early commencement of high-efficacy therapy would be associated with reduced long-term disability. We therefore aimed to compare long-term disability outcomes between patients who started high-efficacy therapies within 2 years of disease onset with those who started 4-6 years after disease onset.

Methods: In this retrospective international observational study, we obtained data from the MSBase registry and the Swedish MS registry, which prospectively collect patient data that are specific to multiple sclerosis as part of routine clinical care. We identified adult patients (aged ≥18 years) with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, with at least 6 years of follow-up since disease onset, and who started the high-efficacy therapy (rituximab, ocrelizumab, mitoxantrone, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab) either 0-2 years (early) or 4-6 years (late) after clinical disease onset. We matched patients in the early and late groups using propensity scores calculated on the basis of their baseline clinical and demographic data. The primary outcome was disability, measured with the Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS; an ordinal scale of 0-10, with higher scores indicating increased disability), at 6-10 years after disease onset, assessed with a linear mixed-effects model.

Findings: We identified 6149 patients in the MSBase registry who had been given high-efficacy therapy, with data collected between Jan 1, 1975, and April 13, 2017, and 2626 patients in the Swedish MS Registry, with data collected between Dec 10, 1997, and Sept 16, 2019. Of whom, 308 in the MSBase registry and 236 in the Swedish MS registry were eligible for inclusion. 277 (51%) of 544 patients commenced therapy early and 267 (49%) commenced therapy late. For the primary analysis, we matched 213 patients in the early treatment group with 253 in the late treatment group. At baseline, the mean EDSS score was 2·2 (SD 1·2) in the early group and 2·1 (SD 1·2) in the late group. Median follow-up time for matched patients was 7·8 years (IQR 6·7-8·9). In the sixth year after disease onset, the mean EDSS score was 2·2 (SD 1·6) in the early group compared with 2·9 (SD 1·8) in the late group (p<0·0001). This difference persisted throughout each year of follow-up until the tenth year after disease onset (mean EDSS score 2·3 [SD 1·8] vs 3·5 [SD 2·1]; p<0·0001), with a difference between groups of -0·98 (95% CI -1·51 to -0·45; p<0·0001, adjusted for proportion of time on any disease-modifying therapy) across the 6-10 year follow-up period.

Interpretation: High-efficacy therapy commenced within 2 years of disease onset is associated with less disability after 6-10 years than when commenced later in the disease course. This finding can inform decisions regarding optimal sequence and timing of multiple sclerosis therapy.

Funding: National Health and Medical Research Council Australia and MS Society UK.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30067-3DOI Listing
April 2020

Comments and Corrections Corrections to "Automated Assessment of Oral Diadochokinesis in Multiple Sclerosis Using a Neural Network Approach: Effect of Different Syllable Repetition Paradigms".

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 2020 03;28(3):767

In the above article [1], the name of the first author was misspelled. The correct name is Kriss Rozenstoks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TNSRE.2020.2970521DOI Listing
March 2020

Characterizing vocal tremor in progressive neurological diseases via automated acoustic analyses.

Clin Neurophysiol 2020 05 21;131(5):1155-1165. Epub 2020 Feb 21.

Department of Circuit Theory, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic; Department of Neurology and Centre of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Electronic address:

Objective: Voice tremor represents a common but frequently overlooked clinical feature of neurological disease. Therefore, we aimed to quantitatively and objectively assess the characteristics of voice tremor in a large sample of patients with various progressive neurological diseases.

Methods: Voice samples were acquired from 240 patients with neurological disease and 40 healthy controls. The robust automated method was designed, allowing precise tracking of multiple tremor frequencies and distinguish pathological from the physiological tremor.

Results: Abnormal tremor was revealed in Huntington's disease (65%), essential tremor (50%), multiple system atrophy (40%), cerebellar ataxia (40%), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (40%), progressive supranuclear palsy (25%), Parkinson's disease (20%), cervical dystonia (10%), and multiple sclerosis (8%) but not in controls. Low-frequency voice tremor (<4 Hz) was common in all investigated diseases, whereas medium tremor frequencies (4-7 Hz) were specific for movement disorders of Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy, essential tremor, and cervical dystonia.

Conclusions: Careful estimation of vocal tremor may help with accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment.

Significance: This study provides (i) more insights into the pathophysiology of vocal tremor in a wide range of neurological diseases and (ii) an accurate method for estimation of vocal tremor suitable for clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2020.02.005DOI Listing
May 2020

Serum neurofilament light chain reflects inflammation-driven neurodegeneration and predicts delayed brain volume loss in early stage of multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2021 01 21;27(1):52-60. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience, General University Hospital and First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background: Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) is a marker of neuroaxonal injury. There is a lack of studies investigating the dynamics of relationships between sNfL levels and radiological disease activity over long-term follow-up in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objectives: To investigate the relationship among repeated measures of sNfL, lesion burden accumulation, brain volume loss and clinical measures.

Methods: We investigated 172 patients in the early stages of MS (McDonald 2017 criteria). Clinical exams were performed every 3 months and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were collected annually over 48 months. sNfL levels were measured in serum by Simoa assay at the time of treatment initiation and then annually over 36 months.

Results: In repeated-measures analysis, considering all time points, we found a strong relationship between percentage changes of sNfL and lesion burden accumulation assessed by T1 lesion volume ( < 0.001) and T2 lesion number ( < 0.001). There was no relationship between percentage changes of sNfL and brain volume loss over 36 months ( > 0.1). Early sNfL levels were associated with delayed brain volume loss after 48 months ( < 0.001). Patients with No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA-3) status showed lower sNfL levels compared with active MS patients.

Conclusions: sNfL is associated with ongoing neuroinflammation and predictive of future neurodegeneration in early MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519901272DOI Listing
January 2021

Automated Assessment of Oral Diadochokinesis in Multiple Sclerosis Using a Neural Network Approach: Effect of Different Syllable Repetition Paradigms.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 2020 01 23;28(1):32-41. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Slow and irregular oral diadochokinesis represents an important manifestation of spastic and ataxic dysarthria in multiple sclerosis (MS). We aimed to develop a robust algorithm based on convolutional neural networks for the accurate detection of syllables from different types of alternating motion rate (AMR) and sequential motion rate (SMR) paradigms. Subsequently, we explored the sensitivity of AMR and SMR paradigms based on voiceless and voiced consonants in the detection of speech impairment. The four types of syllable repetition paradigms including /ta/, /da/, /pa/-/ta/-/ka/, and /ba/-/da/-/ga/ were collected from 120 MS patients and 60 matched healthy control speakers. Our neural network algorithm was able to correctly identify the position of individual syllables with a very high average accuracy of 97.8%, with the correct temporal detection of syllable position of 87.8% for 10 ms and 95.5% for 20 ms tolerance value. We found significantly altered diadochokinetic rate and regularity in MS compared to controls across all types of investigated tasks ( ). MS patients showed slower speech for SMR compared to AMR tasks, whereas voiced paradigms were more irregular. Objective evaluation of oral diadochokinesis using different AMR and SMR paradigms may provide important information regarding speech severity and pathophysiology of the underlying disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TNSRE.2019.2943064DOI Listing
January 2020

Additive Effect of Spinal Cord Volume, Diffuse and Focal Cord Pathology on Disability in Multiple Sclerosis.

Front Neurol 2019 6;10:820. Epub 2019 Aug 6.

Department of Radiology, Charles University in Prague, 1st Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital, Prague, Czechia.

Spinal cord (SC) pathology is strongly associated with disability in multiple sclerosis (MS). We aimed to evaluate the association between focal and diffuse SC abnormalities and spinal cord volume and to assess their contribution to physical disability in MS patients. This large sample-size cross-sectional study investigated 1,249 patients with heterogeneous MS phenotypes. Upper cervical-cord cross-sectional area (MUCCA) was calculated on an axial 3D-T2w-FatSat sequence acquired at 3T using a novel semiautomatic edge-finding tool. SC images were scored for the presence of sharply demarcated hyperintense areas (focal lesions) and homogenously increased signal intensity (diffuse changes). Patients were dichotomized according EDSS in groups with mild (EDSS up to 3.0) and moderate (EDSS ≥ 3.5) physical disability. Analysis of covariance was used to identify factors associated with dichotomized MUCCA. In binary logistic regression, the SC imaging parameters were entered in blocks to assess their individual contribution to risk of moderate disability. In order to assess the risk of combined SC damage in terms of atrophy lesional pathology on disability, secondary analysis was carried out where patients were divided into four categories (SC phenotypes) according to median dichotomized MUCCA and presence/absence of focal and/or diffuse changes. MUCCA was strongly associated with total intracranial volume, followed by presence of diffuse SC pathology, and disease duration. Compared to the reference group (normally appearing SC, MUCCA>median), patients with the most severe SC changes (SC affected with focal and/or diffuse lesions, MUCCA
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00820DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691803PMC
August 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

Lifespan normative data on rates of brain volume changes.

Neurobiol Aging 2019 09 22;81:30-37. Epub 2019 May 22.

Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience, University of Siena, Siena, Italy. Electronic address:

We provide here normative values of yearly percentage brain volume change (PBVC/y) as obtained with Structural Imaging Evaluation, using Normalization, of Atrophy, a widely used open-source software, developing a PBVC/y calculator for assessing the deviation from the expected PBVC/y in patients with neurological disorders. We assessed multicenter (34 centers, 11 acquisition protocols) magnetic resonance imaging data of 720 healthy participants covering the whole adult lifespan (16-90 years). Data of 421 participants with a follow-up > 6 months were used to obtain the normative values for PBVC/y and data of 392 participants with a follow-up <1 month were selected to assess the intrasubject variability of the brain volume measurement. A mixed model evaluated PBVC/y dependence on age, sex, and magnetic resonance imaging parameters (scan vendor and magnetic field strength). PBVC/y was associated with age (p < 0.001), with 60- to 70-year-old participants showing twice more volume decrease than participants aged 30-40 years. PBVC/y was also associated with magnetic field strength, with higher decreases when measured by 1.5T than 3T scanners (p < 0.001). The variability of PBVC/y normative percentiles was narrower as the interscan interval was longer (e.g., 80th normative percentile was 50% smaller for participants with 2-year than with 1-year follow-up). The use of these normative data, eased by the freely available calculator, might help in better discriminating pathological from physiological conditions in the clinical setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.05.010DOI Listing
September 2019

Brain volumetric correlates of dysarthria in multiple sclerosis.

Brain Lang 2019 07 15;194:58-64. Epub 2019 May 15.

Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic.

Although dysarthria is a common pattern in multiple sclerosis (MS), the contribution of specific brain areas to key factors of dysarthria remains unknown. Speech data were acquired from 123 MS patients with Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) ranging from 1 to 6.5 and 60 matched healthy controls. Results of computerized acoustic analyses of subtests on spastic and ataxic aspects of dysarthria were correlated with MRI-based brain volume measurements. Slow articulation rate during reading was associated with bilateral white and grey matter loss whereas reduced maximum speed during oral diadochokinesis was related to greater cerebellar involvement. Articulation rate showed similar correlation to whole brain atrophy (r = 0.46, p < 0.001) as the standard clinical scales such as EDSS (r = -0.45, p < 0.001). Our results support the critical role of the pyramidal tract and cerebellum in the modification of motor speech timing in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2019.04.009DOI Listing
July 2019

Slowed articulation rate is associated with information processing speed decline in multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.

J Clin Neurosci 2019 Jul 6;65:28-33. Epub 2019 May 6.

Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and General University Hospital, Katerinska 30, 120 00 Prague 2, Czech Republic.

Background: Impairment of cognition and speech are common in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, but their relationship is not well understood.

Objective: To describe the relationship between articulation rate characteristics and processing speed and to investigate the potential role of objective speech analysis for the detection of cognitive decline in MS.

Methods: A total of 122 patients with clinically definite MS were included in this cross-sectional pilot study. Patients underwent three speaking tasks (oral diadochokinesis, reading text and monologue) and assessment of processing speed (Symbol Digit Modalities Test [SDMT], Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test-3 s [PASAT-3]). Association between articulation rate and cognition was analyzed using linear regression analysis. We estimated the area under the receiver operating characteristics curves (AUC) to evaluate the predictive accuracy of articulation rate measures for the detection of abnormal processing speed.

Results: We observed an association between articulation rate and cognitive measures (rho = 0.45-0.58; p < 0.001). Faster reading speed by one word per second was associated with an 18.7 point (95% confidence interval [CI] 14.9-22.5) increase of the SDMT score and 14.7 (95% CI 8.9-20.4) point increase of PASAT-3 score (both p < 0.001). AUC values of articulation rate characteristics for the identification of processing speed impairment ranged between 0.67 and 0.79. Using a cutoff of 3.10 in reading speed, we were able to identify impairment in both the SDMT and PASAT-3 with 91% sensitivity and 54% specificity.

Conclusion: Slowed articulation rate is strongly associated with processing speed decline. Objective quantitative speech analysis identified patients with abnormal cognitive performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jocn.2019.04.018DOI Listing
July 2019

Association of Initial Disease-Modifying Therapy With Later Conversion to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

JAMA 2019 01;321(2):175-187

Institute for Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Wales.

Importance: Within 2 decades of onset, 80% of untreated patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) convert to a phase of irreversible disability accrual termed secondary progressive MS. The association between disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), and this conversion has rarely been studied and never using a validated definition.

Objective: To determine the association between the use, the type of, and the timing of DMTs with the risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS diagnosed with a validated definition.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Cohort study with prospective data from 68 neurology centers in 21 countries examining patients with relapsing-remitting MS commencing DMTs (or clinical monitoring) between 1988-2012 with minimum 4 years' follow-up.

Exposures: The use, type, and timing of the following DMTs: interferon beta, glatiramer acetate, fingolimod, natalizumab, or alemtuzumab. After propensity-score matching, 1555 patients were included (last follow-up, February 14, 2017).

Main Outcome And Measure: Conversion to objectively defined secondary progressive MS.

Results: Of the 1555 patients, 1123 were female (mean baseline age, 35 years [SD, 10]). Patients initially treated with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta had a lower hazard of conversion to secondary progressive MS than matched untreated patients (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.61-0.81; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 12% [49 of 407] vs 27% [58 of 213]; median follow-up, 7.6 years [IQR, 5.8-9.6]), as did fingolimod (HR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.22-0.62; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 7% [6 of 85] vs 32% [56 of 174]; median follow-up, 4.5 years [IQR, 4.3-5.1]); natalizumab (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.43-0.86; P = .005; 5-year absolute risk, 19% [16 of 82] vs 38% [62 of 164]; median follow-up, 4.9 years [IQR, 4.4-5.8]); and alemtuzumab (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.32-0.85; P = .009; 5-year absolute risk, 10% [4 of 44] vs 25% [23 of 92]; median follow-up, 7.4 years [IQR, 6.0-8.6]). Initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion than initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.44-0.99; P = .046); 5-year absolute risk, 7% [16 of 235] vs 12% [46 of 380]; median follow-up, 5.8 years [IQR, 4.7-8.0]). The probability of conversion was lower when glatiramer acetate or interferon beta was started within 5 years of disease onset vs later (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.61-0.98; P = .03; 5-year absolute risk, 3% [4 of 120] vs 6% [2 of 38]; median follow-up, 13.4 years [IQR, 11-18.1]). When glatiramer acetate or interferon beta were escalated to fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab within 5 years vs later, the HR was 0.76 (95% CI, 0.66-0.88; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 8% [25 of 307] vs 14% [46 of 331], median follow-up, 5.3 years [IQR], 4.6-6.1).

Conclusions And Relevance: Among patients with relapsing-remitting MS, initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS vs initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta. These findings, considered along with these therapies' risks, may help inform decisions about DMT selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.20588DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6439772PMC
January 2019

Comparison of fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate and teriflunomide for multiple sclerosis.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2019 04 13;90(4):458-468. Epub 2019 Jan 13.

Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: Oral immunotherapies have become a standard treatment in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Direct comparison of their effect on relapse and disability is needed.

Methods: We identified all patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis treated with teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate or fingolimod, with minimum 3-month treatment persistence and disability follow-up in the global MSBase cohort study. Patients were matched using propensity scores. Three pairwise analyses compared annualised relapse rates and hazards of disability accumulation, disability improvement and treatment discontinuation (analysed with negative binomial models and weighted conditional survival models, with pairwise censoring).

Results: The eligible cohorts consisted of 614 (teriflunomide), 782 (dimethyl fumarate) or 2332 (fingolimod) patients, followed over the median of 2.5 years. Annualised relapse rates were lower on fingolimod compared with teriflunomide (0.18 vs 0.24; p=0.05) and dimethyl fumarate (0.20 vs 0.26; p=0.01) and similar on dimethyl fumarate and teriflunomide (0.19 vs 0.22; p=0.55). No differences in disability accumulation (p≥0.59) or improvement (p≥0.14) were found between the therapies. In patients with ≥3-month treatment persistence, subsequent discontinuations were less likely on fingolimod than teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate (p<0.001). Discontinuation rates on teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate were similar (p=0.68).

Conclusion: The effect of fingolimod on relapse frequency was superior to teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate. The effect of the three oral therapies on disability outcomes was similar during the initial 2.5 years on treatment. Persistence on fingolimod was superior to the two comparator drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2018-319831DOI Listing
April 2019