Publications by authors named "Diana Ferraro"

70 Publications

Lymphocyte reconstitution after DMF discontinuation in clinical trial and real-world patients with MS.

Neurol Clin Pract 2020 Dec;10(6):510-519

Department of Neurology (AC), Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Switzerland; Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurovirology (JR), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Brain Institute (JR), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Department of Neurology (JR), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of Colorado (EA), Aurora, CO; Department of Neurology and Center for Neuroinflammation and Experimental Therapeutics (AB-O), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (AB-O), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Central Clinical School (HB), Monash University, VIC, Australia; Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research (RJF), Cleveland Clinic, OH; Department of Neurology (RG), St. Josef-Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany; South Shore Neurologic Association PC (MG), Patchogue, NY; Eastern Health MS Service (JH), Box Hill, VIC, Australia; Department of Medicine and Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (TS), University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia; Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics (KW), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Imaging Program, Clinical Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Dallas, TX; Department of Neuroscience (DF, PS), Neurology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Modena, Italy; Liverpool Hospital (SH), NSW, Australia; Department of Medicine (TK), CORe Unit, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Department of Neurology (TK), Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC, Australia; School of Medicine and Public Health (JL-S), University Newcastle, NSW, Australia; Department of Neurology (JL-S), John Hunter Hospital, Hunter New England Health, Newcastle, NSW, Australia; Department of Neurology (C. McGuigan), St. Vincent's University Hospital and University College, Dublin, Ireland; Envision Pharma Group (KS), Fairfield, CT; and Biogen (CC, SF, FW, C. Miller), Cambridge, MA.

Background: Delayed-release dimethyl fumarate (DMF) has demonstrated robust efficacy in treating patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Decreases in absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) are a well-known pharmacodynamic effect of DMF treatment, but lymphocyte recovery dynamics are not well characterized after discontinuation of DMF.

Methods: Data sources included the Biogen DMF integrated clinical trial data set, a retrospective US chart abstraction study, and data from MSBase. We assessed rate and time course of lymphocyte reconstitution after DMF discontinuation.

Results: The majority of patients who developed lymphopenia while treated with DMF and subsequently discontinued treatment experienced ALC reconstitution. The median time to reach ALC ≥0.8 × 10/L was 2-4 months after discontinuation for patients treated in real-world data sets; the median time to reach ALC ≥0.91 × 10/L was 2 months after discontinuation in DMF clinical trials. Severity of lymphopenia on treatment and decline in ALC within the first 6 months did not affect the ALC reconstitution rate after DMF discontinuation; rather, on-treatment lymphopenia duration influenced the reconstitution rate. In patients with severe, prolonged lymphopenia for ≥3 years, lymphocyte reconstitution to ≥0.91 × 10/L was 12-18 months vs 2-3 months in patients with lymphopenia persisting <6 months.

Conclusions: The majority of patients who discontinued DMF due to lymphopenia experienced ALC reconstitution within 2-4 months following DMF discontinuation. This may help guide clinicians in managing patients who develop lymphopenia during DMF treatment. Prolonged lymphopenia on DMF treatment is associated with slow lymphocyte recovery after DMF discontinuation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000800DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7837440PMC
December 2020

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

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

Defining the course of tumefactive multiple sclerosis: A large retrospective multicentre study.

Eur J Neurol 2020 Dec 10. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

Background And Purpose: Tumefactive multiple sclerosis (TuMS) (i.e., MS onset presenting with tumefactive demyelinating lesions [TDLs]) is a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. We performed a multicentre retrospective study to describe the clinical characteristics and the prognostic factors of TuMS.

Methods: One hundred two TuMS patients were included in this retrospective study. Demographic, clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), laboratory data and treatment choices were collected.

Results: TuMS was found to affect women more than men (female:male: 2.4), with a young adulthood onset (median age: 29.5 years, range: 11-68 years, interquartile range [IQR]: 38 years). At onset, 52% of TuMS patients presented with the involvement of more than one functional system and 24.5% of them with multiple TDLs. TDLs most frequently presented with an infiltrative MRI pattern (38.7%). Cerebrospinal fluid immunoglobulin G oligoclonal bands were often demonstrated (76.6%). In 25.3% of the cases, more than one acute-phase treatment was administered, and almost one-half of the patients (46.6%) were treated with high-efficacy treatments. After a median follow-up of 2.3 years (range: 0.1-10.7 years, IQR: 3.4 years), the median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score was 1.5 (range: 0-7, IQR: 2). Independent risk factors for reaching an EDSS score ≥3 were a higher age at onset (odds ratio [OR]: 1.08, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03-1.14, p < 0.01), a higher number of TDLs (OR: 1.67, 95% CI: 1.02-2.74, p < 0.05) and the presence of infiltrative TDLs (OR: 3.34, 95% CI: 1.18-9.5, p < 0.001) at baseline.

Conclusions: The management of TuMS might be challenging because of its peculiar characteristics. Large prospective studies could help to define the clinical characteristics and the best treatment algorithms for people with TuMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ene.14672DOI Listing
December 2020

Transition to secondary progression in relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis: Definitions and risk factors.

Mult Scler 2021 Mar 19;27(3):430-438. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neurosciences and Sense Organs, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy.

Background: No uniform criteria for a sensitive identification of the transition from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) to secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) are available.

Objective: To compare risk factors of SPMS using two definitions: one based on the neurologist judgment (ND) and an objective data-driven algorithm (DDA).

Methods: Relapsing-onset MS patients ( = 19,318) were extracted from the Italian MS Registry. Risk factors for SPMS and for reaching irreversible Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 6.0, after SP transition, were estimated using multivariable Cox regression models.

Results: SPMS identified by the DDA ( = 2343, 12.1%) were older, more disabled and with a faster progression to severe disability ( < 0.0001), than those identified by the ND ( = 3868, 20.0%). In both groups, the most consistent risk factors ( < 0.05) for SPMS were a multifocal onset, an age at onset >40 years, higher baseline EDSS score and a higher number of relapses; the most consistent protective factor was the disease-modifying therapy (DMT) exposure. DMT exposure during SP did not impact the risk of reaching irreversible EDSS 6.0.

Conclusion: A DDA definition of SPMS identifies more aggressive progressive patients. DMT exposure reduces the risk of SPMS conversion, but it does not prevent the disability accumulation after the SP transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520974366DOI Listing
March 2021

Kappa Index Versus CSF Oligoclonal Bands in Predicting Multiple Sclerosis and Infectious/Inflammatory CNS Disorders.

Diagnostics (Basel) 2020 Oct 21;10(10). Epub 2020 Oct 21.

Neurology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria of Modena, 41126 Modena, Italy.

Background: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) kappa free light chains (KFLC) are gaining increasing interest as markers of intrathecal immunoglobulin synthesis. The main aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy (AUC) of the kappa index (CSF/serum KFLC divided by the CSF/serum albumin ratio) compared to CSF oligoclonal IgG bands (OCB) in predicting Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or a central nervous system infectious/inflammatory disorder (CNSID).

Methods: We enrolled patients who underwent a diagnostic spinal tap throughout two years. KFLC levels were determined using a Freelite assay (Binding Site) and the turbidimetric Optilite analyzer.

Results: Of 540 included patients, 223 had a CNSID, and 84 had MS. The kappa index was more sensitive (0.89 versus 0.85) and less specific (0.84 versus 0.89), with the same AUC (0.87) as OCB for MS diagnosis (optimal cut-off: 6.2). Adding patients with a single CSF IgG band to the OCB-positive group slightly increased the AUC (0.88). Likewise, the kappa index (cut-off: 3.9) was more sensitive (0.67 versus 0.50) and less specific (0.81 versus 0.97), with the same AUC (0.74) as OCB, for a CNSID diagnosis.

Conclusion: The kappa index and CSF OCB have comparable diagnostic accuracies for a MS or CNSID diagnosis and supply the clinician with useful, complementary information.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics10100856DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589948PMC
October 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

Inter-center agreement in the interpretation of oligoclonal bands.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2021 Feb 28;59(3):e91-e94. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, Neurology Unit, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2020-1037DOI Listing
February 2021

A voxel-based lesion symptom mapping analysis of chronic pain in multiple sclerosis.

Neurol Sci 2020 Sep 25. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Department of Biomedical Metabolic and Neurosciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

Background: Pain is one of the most disabling symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Chronic pain in multiple sclerosis is often neuropathic in nature, although a clear-cut distinction with nociceptive pain is not easy.

Objective: The aim of our study was to analyze the MRIs of multiple sclerosis patients with chronic pain in order to explore possible associations with lesion sites, on a voxel-by-voxel basis.

Materials And Methods: We enrolled patients aged > 18 years with multiple sclerosis in accordance with the 2010 McDonald criteria. Patients meeting criteria for persistent pain (frequent or constant pain lasting > 3 months) were included in the "pain group". The other patients were included in the "no pain group". We outlined lesions on FLAIR MRI scans using a semi-automated edge finding tool. To detect the association between lesion localization and persistent pain, images were analysed with the voxel-based lesion symptom mapping methods implemented in the (nonparametric mapping software included into the MRIcron.

Results: We enrolled 208 MS patients (140 F, mean age 55.2 ± 9.4 years; 176 RR, 28 progressive MS; mean EDSS 2.0 + 2.0). Pain group included 96 patients and no pain group 112 patients. Lesions of the right dorsolateral prefrontal area were significantly more prevalent in patients without pain, whereas periventricular posterior lesions were significantly more prevalent in patients with persistent pain.

Conclusion: Our data suggest a role of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the modulation of pain perception and in the occurrence of chronic pain in MS patients. Our data also support a hemispheric asymmetry in pain perception and modulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04745-3DOI Listing
September 2020

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

Mitochondrial damage-associated molecular patterns stimulate reactive oxygen species production in human microglia.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2020 10 20;108:103538. Epub 2020 Aug 20.

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences for Children and Adults, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via Campi, 287, 41125 Modena, Italy; National Institute of Cardiovascular Research, via Irnerio, 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy.

Microglia are the resident innate immune cells of the central nervous system and exert functions of host defense and maintenance of normal tissue homeostasis, along with support of neuronal processes in the healthy brain. Chronic and dysregulated microglial cell activation has increasingly been linked to the status of neuroinflammation underlying many neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the stimulus (or stimuli) and mechanisms by which microglial activation is initiated and maintained MS are still debated. The purpose of our research was to investigate whether the endogenous mitochondrial (mt)-derived damage-associated molecular patterns (MTDs) mtDNA, N-formyl peptides and cardiolipin (CL) contribute to these phenomena. We characterized the effects of the abovementioned MTDs on microglia activation in vitro (i.e. using HMC3 cells) by evaluating the expression of gene coding for proteins involved in their binding and coupled to downstream signaling pathways, the up-regulation of markers of activation on the cell surface and the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. At the transcriptional level, significant variations in the mRNA relative expression of five of eleven selected genes were observed in response to stimulation. No changes in activation of antigenic profile or functional properties of HMC3 cells were observed; there was no up-regulation of HLA-DR expression or increased secretion of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6. However, after stimulation with mtDNA and CL, an increase in cellular oxidative stress, but not in the mt ROS O, compared to control cells, were observed. There were no effects on cell viability. Overall, our data suggest that MTDs could cause a failure in microglial activation toward a pro-inflammatory phenotype, possibly triggering an endogenous regulatory mechanism for the resolution of neuroinflammation. This could open a door for the development of drugs selectively targeting microglia and modulating its functionality to treat MS and/or other neurodegenerative conditions in which MTDs have a pathogenic relevance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2020.103538DOI Listing
October 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

Harmonization of real-world studies in multiple sclerosis: Retrospective analysis from the rirems group.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Oct 12;45:102394. Epub 2020 Jul 12.

Rehabilitation Department, Mons. L. Novarese, Moncrivello, Vercelli, Italy.

Background: Worldwide multiple sclerosis (MS) centers have coordinated their efforts to use data acquired in clinical practice for real-world observational studies. In this retrospective study, we aim to harmonize outcome measures, and to evaluate their heterogeneity within the Rising Italian Researchers in MS (RIReMS) study group.

Methods: RIReMS members filled in a structured questionnaire evaluating the use of different outcome measures in clinical practice. Thereafter, thirty-four already-published papers from RIReMS centers were used for heterogeneity analyses, using the DerSimonian and Laird random-effects method to compute the between-study variance (τ).

Results: Based on questionnaire results, we defined basic modules for diagnosis and follow-up, consisting of outcome measures recorded by all participating centers at the time of diagnosis, and, then, at least annually; we also defined more detailed/optional modules, with outcome measures recorded less frequently and/or in the presence of specific clinical indications. Looking at heterogeneity, we found 5-year variance in age at onset (ES=27.34; 95%CI=26.18, 28.49; p<0.01; τ=4.76), and 7% in female percent (ES=66.42; 95%CI=63.08, 69.76; p<0.01; τ=7.15). EDSS variance was 0.2 in studies including patients with average age <36.1 years (ES=1.96; 95%CI=1.69, 2.24; p<0.01; τ=0.19), or from 36.8 to 41.1 years (ES=2.70; 95%CI=2.39, 3.01; p<0.01; τ=0.18), but increased to 3 in studies including patients aged >41.4 years (ES=4.37; 95%CI=3.40, 5.35; p<0.01; τ=2.96). The lowest variance of relapse rate was found in studies with follow-up duration ≤2 years (ES=9.07; 95%CI=5.21, 12.93; p = 0.02; τ=5.53), whilst the lowest variance in EDSS progression was found in studies with follow-up duration >2 years (ES=5.41; 95%CI=3.22, 7.60; p = 0.02; τ=1.00).

Discussion: We suggest common sets of biomarkers to be acquired in clinical practice, that can be used for research purposes. Also, we provide researchers with specific indications for improving inclusion criteria and data analysis, ultimately allowing data harmonization and high-quality collaborative studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102394DOI Listing
October 2020

Prediction of on-treatment disability worsening in RRMS with the MAGNIMS score.

Mult Scler 2020 Jul 8:1352458520936823. Epub 2020 Jul 8.

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

Background: The magnetic resonance imaging in multiple sclerosis (MAGNIMS) score combines relapses and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesions to predict disability outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) treated with interferon-β.

Objective: To validate the MAGNIMS score and extend to other disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). To examine the prognostic value of gadolinium contrast-enhancing (Gd+) lesions.

Methods: This RRMS MSBase cohort study ( = 2293) used a Cox model to examine the prognostic value of relapses, MRI activity and the MAGNIMS score for disability worsening during treatment with interferon-β and three other DMTs.

Results: Three new T2 lesions (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.60,  = 0.028) or two relapses (HR = 2.24,  = 0.002) on interferon-β (for 12 months) were predictive of disability worsening over 4 years. MAGNIMS score = 2 (1 relapse and ⩾3 T2 lesions or ⩾2 relapses) was associated with a greater risk of disability worsening on interferon-β (HR = 2.0,  = 0.001). In pooled cohort of four DMTs, similar associations were seen (MAGNIMS score = 2: HR = 1.72,  = 0.001). Secondary analyses demonstrated that the addition of Gd+ to the MAGNIMS did not materially improve its prediction of disability worsening.

Conclusion: We have validated the MAGNIMS score in RRMS and extended its application to three other DMTs: 1 relapse and ⩾3 T2 lesions or ⩾2 relapses predicted worsening of disability. Contrast-enhancing lesions did not substantially improve the prognostic score.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520936823DOI Listing
July 2020

Cell-based assays for the detection of MOG antibodies: a comparative study.

J Neurol 2020 Dec 4;267(12):3555-3564. Epub 2020 Jul 4.

Neuroimmunology Laboratory, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Background: The detection of antibodies to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) is fundamental for the identification of MOG antibody-associated disorders (MOGAD), and the differential diagnosis of acquired demyelinating syndromes of the CNS, among which multiple sclerosis (MS). We compared the diagnostic performance of four cell-based assays (CBAs) for their detection.

Methods: Consecutive sera from 204 patients with 'possible MOGAD' (55), MS (112), and other neurological disorders (OND, 37) were tested for MOG-IgG with a live-CBA with anti-heavy-and-light chain secondary-antibody (LCBA-IgG), and a live-CBA for IgG (LCBA-IgG). A subgroup of 71 patients was additionally tested with a live-CBA with anti-Fcγ secondary-antibody (LCBA-IgG), and a commercial fixed-CBA with anti-Fcγ secondary-antibody (FCBA-IgG) RESULTS: Fifty-seven/204 patients (27.9%) were MOG-IgG-positive. Sensitivity was 89.1% (CI:77.8-95.9) and specificity 93.3% (CI:88.0-96.7) for LCBA-IgG, and 74.6% (CI:61.0-85.3) and 100% (CI:97.6-100) for LCBA-IgG. Eighteen of 57 (31%) samples showed discrepant results (all negative on LCBA-IgG); of these, three with 'possible MOGAD' showed high-titer MOG-IgG (≥ 1:640), and positivity for MOG-IgG, whereas 15/18 had low-titer MOG-IgG (1:160/1:320) and mixed diagnoses (5 'possible MOGAD', 6 MS, 4 OND). In the subgroup analysis, sensitivity was 92.3% (CI:79.1-98.4) and specificity 97.0% (CI:83.8-99.9) for LCBA-IgG, and 87.2% (CI:72.6-95.7) and 97.0% (CI:83.8-99.9) for FCBA-IgG.

Conclusions: LCBA-IgG showed the highest specificity but can miss MOG-IgG reactivities, whose meaning warrants further investigations. Titration of samples tested with LCBA-IgG/ IgG is important for meaningful interpretation of the results. In the subgroup analysis, LCBA-IgG yielded the highest accuracy, and FCBA-IgG good specificity, but it was at risk of false-negative results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-020-10024-0DOI Listing
December 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

Diagnostic features of initial demyelinating events associated with serum MOG-IgG.

J Neuroimmunol 2020 07 7;344:577260. Epub 2020 May 7.

Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona and Neurology Unit B, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata Verona, Verona, Italy.

Background: Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-IgG associated disorders are increasingly recognized as a distinct disease entity. However, diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of serum MOG-IgG as well as recommendations for testing are still debated.

Materials And Methods: Between October 2015 and July 2017 we tested serum MOG-IgG in 91 adult patients (49 females) with a demyelinating event (DE) not fulfilling 2010 McDonald criteria for MS at sampling, negative for neuromyelitis optica (NMO)-IgG and followed-up for at least 12 months. We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of a live-cell MOG-IgG assay for each final diagnosis at last follow-up, for the 2018 international recommendations for MOG-IgG testing, and for other combinations of clinical and laboratory characteristics.

Results: Clinical presentations included acute myelitis (n = 48), optic neuritis (n = 36), multifocal encephalomyelitis (n = 4), and brainstem syndrome (n = 3). Twenty-four patients were MOG-IgG positive. Sensitivity and specificity of MOG-IgG test applied to the 2018 international recommendations were 28.4% and 86.7%, while they were 42.1% and 88.6% when applied to DE of unclear aetiology as defined above with two or more among: 1_no periventricular and juxtacortical MS-like lesions on brain MRI; 2_longitudinally extensive MRI optic nerve lesion; 3_no CSF-restricted oligoclonal bands; 4_CSF protein > 50 mg/dl.

Conclusions: Simplified requirements compared to those currently proposed for MOG-IgG testing could facilitate the applicability of the assay in the diagnosis of adults with DEs of unclear aetiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2020.577260DOI Listing
July 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

Simultaneous quantification of natural and inducible regulatory T-cell subsets during interferon-β therapy of multiple sclerosis patients.

J Transl Med 2020 04 16;18(1):169. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Centro di Ricerca Emato-oncologica AIL (CREA), ASST Spedali Civili, P.le Spedali Civili 1, 25123, Brescia, Italy.

Background: The mechanisms underlying the therapeutic activity of interferon-β in multiple sclerosis are still not completely understood. In the present study, we evaluated the short and long-term effects of interferon-β treatment on different subsets of regulatory T cells in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients biologically responsive to treatment because of mixovirus resistance protein A inducibility.

Methods: In this prospective longitudinal study, subsets of natural regulatory T cells (naïve, central memory and effector memory) and inducible regulatory T cells (Tr1), as well as in vitro-induced regulatory T cells (Tr1-like cells), were simultaneously quantified by flow cytometry in samples prepared from 148 therapy-naïve multiple sclerosis patients obtained before and after 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of interferon-β-1a treatment. mRNA for interleukin-10 and Tr1-related genes (CD18, CD49b, and CD46, together with Cyt-1 and Cyt-2 CD46-associated isoforms) were quantified in Tr1-like cells.

Results: Despite profound inter-individual variations in the modulation of all regulatory T-cell subsets, the percentage of natural regulatory T cells increased after 6, 12, and 24 months of interferon-β treatment. This increase was characterized by the expansion of central and effector memory regulatory T-cell subsets. The percentage of Tr1 significantly enhanced at 12 months of therapy and continued to be high at the subsequent evaluation points. Patients experiencing relapses displayed a higher percentage of naïve regulatory T cells and a lower percentage of central memory regulatory T cells and of Tr1 before starting interferon-β therapy. In addition, an increase over time of central memory and of Tr1 was observed only in patients with stable disease. However, in vitro-induced Tr1-like cells, prepared from patients treated for 24 months, produced less amount of interleukin-10 mRNA compared with pre-treatment Tr1-like cells.

Conclusion: Interferon-β induces the expansion of T regulatory subsets endowed with a high suppressive activity, especially in clinically stable patients. The overall concurrent modulation of natural and inducible regulatory T-cell subsets might explain the therapeutic effects of interferon-β in multiple sclerosis patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-020-02329-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7161224PMC
April 2020

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

Clinical and therapeutic predictors of disease outcomes in AQP4-IgG+ neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Feb 25;38:101868. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

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

Background: Aquaporin-4-IgG positive (AQP4-IgG+) Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD) is an uncommon central nervous system autoimmune disorder. Disease outcomes in AQP4-IgG+NMOSD are typically measured by relapse rate and disability. Using the MSBase, a multi-centre international registry, we aimed to examine the impact immunosuppressive therapies and patient characteristics as predictors of disease outcome measures in AQP4-IgG+NMOSD.

Method: This MSBase cohort study of AQP4-IgG+NMOSD patients examined modifiers of relapse in a multivariable proportional hazards model and expanded disability status score (EDSS) using a mixed effects model.

Results: 206 AQP4-IgG+ patients were included (median follow-up 3.7 years). Age (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.82 per decade, p = 0.001), brainstem onset (HR = 0.45, p = 0.009), azathioprine (HR = 0.46, p<0.001) and mycophenolate mofetil (HR = 0.09, p = 0.012) were associated with a reduced risk of relapse. A greater EDSS was associated with age (β = 0.45 (per decade), p<0.001) and disease duration (β = 0.07 per year, p<0.001). A slower increase in EDSS was associated with azathioprine (β = -0.48, p<0.001), mycophenolate mofetil (β = -0.69, p = 0.04) and rituximab (β = -0.35, p = 0.024).

Interpretation: This study has demonstrated that azathioprine and mycophenolate mofetil reduce the risk of relapses and disability progression is modified by azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil and rituximab. Age and disease duration were the only patient characteristics that modified the risk of relapse and disability in our cohort.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2019.101868DOI Listing
February 2020

Abnormal Circadian Modification of A-Fiber Pathway Excitability in Idiopathic Restless Legs Syndrome.

Pain Res Manag 2019 3;2019:5408732. Epub 2019 Nov 3.

Neurology Division, Pediatric Hospital "Bambino Gesù" IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by unpleasant sensations generally localized to legs, associated with an urge to move. A likely pathogenetic mechanism is a central dopaminergic dysfunction. The exact role of pain system is unclear. The purpose of the study was to investigate the nociceptive pathways in idiopathic RLS patients. We enrolled 11 patients (mean age 53.2 ± 19.7 years; 7 men) suffering from severe, primary RLS. We recorded scalp laser-evoked potentials (LEPs) to stimulation of different sites (hands and feet) and during two different time conditions (daytime and nighttime). Finally, we compared the results with a matched control group of healthy subjects. The A responses obtained from patients did not differ from those recorded from control subjects. However, the N1 and the N2-P2 amplitudes' night/day ratios after foot stimulation were increased in patients, as compared to controls (N1: patients: 133.91 ± 50.42%; controls: 83.74 ± 34.45%; = 0.016; A-N2-P2: patients: 119.15 ± 15.56%; controls: 88.42 ± 23.41%; = 0.003). These results suggest that RLS patients present circadian modifications in the pain system, which are not present in healthy controls. Both sensory-discriminative and affective-emotional components of pain experience show parallel changes. This study confirms the structural integrity of A nociceptive system in idiopathic RLS, but it also suggests that RLS patients present circadian modifications in the pain system. These findings could potentially help clinicians and contribute to identify new therapeutic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2019/5408732DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6885267PMC
March 2020

Increased plasma levels of mitochondrial DNA and pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis.

J Neuroimmunol 2020 01 7;338:577107. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences for Children and Adults, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via Campi, 287, 41125 Modena, Italy; National Institute of Cardiovascular Research, via Irnerio, 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy.

The role of damage-associated molecular patterns in multiple sclerosis (MS) is under investigation. Here, we studied the contribution of circulating high mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to neuroinflammation in progressive MS. We measured plasmatic mtDNA, HMGB1 and pro-inflammatory cytokines in 38 secondary progressive (SP) patients, 35 primary progressive (PP) patients and 42 controls. Free mtDNA was higher in SP than PP. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were increased in progressive patients. In PP, tumor necrosis factor-α correlated with MS Severity Score. Thus, in progressive patients, plasmatic mtDNA and pro-inflammatory cytokines likely contribute to the systemic inflammatory status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2019.577107DOI Listing
January 2020

Characteristics and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis-related trigeminal neuralgia: An Italian multi-centre study.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Jan 19;37:101461. Epub 2019 Oct 19.

Rehabilitation Department, Mons. L. Novarese, Moncrivello, Vercelli, Italy.

Background: The prevalence of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients is higher than in the general population and its management can be particularly challenging. Our aim is to describe the characteristics, treatment and prognostic factors of MS-related TN in a retrospective multicentre study.

Methods: Neurologists members of the RIREMS group (Rising Researchers in MS) enrolled MS patients with a TN diagnosis and filled out a spreadsheet comprising their clinical data.

Results: Population consisted of 298 patients. First-choice preventive treatments were carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine. A surgical procedure was performed in 81 (30%) patients, most commonly gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery (37%), followed by microvascular decompression (22%) and radiofrequency thermocoagulation (21%); one third of patients underwent at least two procedures. Surgery was associated with higher disability, male sex and longer interval between MS and TN onset. Patients (77%) who stayed on at least one preventive medication at most recent follow-up, after a mean period of 8 years, had a higher disability compared to the untreated group. Furthermore, patients with higher disability at TN onset were less likely to discontinue their first preventive medication due to pain remission, had bilateral TN more frequently and underwent surgical interventions earlier.

Conclusion: MS patients with a higher disability at TN onset and with a longer interval between MS and TN onset had differing clinical features and outcomes: pain was more frequently bilateral, surgery was more frequent and anticipated, and preventive medication discontinuation due to pain remission was less common.
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January 2020

Conversion to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Patient Awareness and Needs. Results From an Online Survey in Italy and Germany.

Front Neurol 2019 22;10:916. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Unit of Neuroepidemiology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy.

Few studies have investigated the experiences of patients around the conversion to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). ManTra is a mixed-method, co-production research project conducted in Italy and Germany to develop an intervention for newly-diagnosed SPMS patients. In previous project actions, we identified the needs and experiences of patients converting to SPMS via literature review and qualitative research which involved key stakeholders. The online patient survey aimed to assess, on a larger and independent sample of recently-diagnosed SPMS patients: (a) the characteristics associated to patient awareness of SPMS conversion; (b) the experience of conversion; (c) importance and prioritization of the needs previously identified. Participants were consenting adults with SPMS since ≤5 years. The survey consisted of three sections: on general and clinical characteristics; on experience of SPMS diagnosis disclosure (aware participants only); and on importance and prioritization of 33 pre-specified needs. Of 215 participants, those aware of their SPMS diagnosis were 57% in Italy vs. 77% in Germany ( = 0.004). In both countries, over 80% of aware participants received a SPMS diagnosis from the neurologist; satisfaction with SPMS disclosure was moderate to high. Nevertheless, 28-35% obtained second opinions, and 48-56% reported they did not receive any information on SPMS. Participants actively seeking further information were 63% in Germany vs. 31% in Italy ( < 0.001). Variables independently associated to patient awareness were geographic area (odds ratio, OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.13-0.78 for Central Italy; OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.08-0.58 for Southern Italy [vs. Germany]) and activity limitations (OR 7.80, 95% CI 1.47-41.37 for dependent vs. autonomous patients). All pre-specified needs were scored a lot or extremely important, and two prioritized needs were shared by Italian and German patients: "physiotherapy" and "active patient care involvement." The other two differed across countries: "an individualized health care plan" and "information on social rights and policies" in Italy, and "psychological support" and "cognitive rehabilitation" in Germany. Around 40% of SPMS patients were not aware of their disease form indicating a need to improve patient-physician communication. Physiotherapy and active patient care involvement were prioritized in both countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00916DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713887PMC
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

Mitochondrial functionality and metabolism in T cells from progressive multiple sclerosis patients.

Eur J Immunol 2019 12 16;49(12):2204-2221. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

Patients with primary progressive (PP) and secondary progressive (SP) forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) exhibit a sustained increase in the number of Th1, T cytotoxic type-1 and Th17 cells in peripheral blood, suggesting that the progressive phase is characterized by a permanent peripheral immune activation. As T cell functionality and activation are strictly connected to their metabolic profile, we investigated the mitochondrial functionality and metabolic changes of T cell subpopulations in a cohort of progressive MS patients. T cells from progressive patients were characterized by low proliferation and increase of terminally differentiated/exhausted cells. T cells from PP patients showed lower Oxygen Consumption Rate and Extracellular Acidification Rate, lower mitochondrial mass, membrane potential and respiration than those of SP patients, a downregulation of transcription factors supporting respiration and higher tendency to shift towards glycolysis upon stimulation. Furthermore, PP effector memory T cells were characterized by higher Glucose transporter -1 levels and a higher expression of glycolytic-supporting genes if compared to SP patients. Overall, our data suggest that profound differences exist in the phenotypic and metabolic features of T cells from PP and SP patients, even though the two clinical phenotypes are considered part of the same disease spectrum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.201948223DOI Listing
December 2019

Plasma neurofilaments correlate with disability in progressive multiple sclerosis patients.

Acta Neurol Scand 2020 Jan 26;141(1):16-21. Epub 2019 Aug 26.

Department of Neurosciences, Ospedale Civile, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria, Modena, Italy.

Objectives: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood neurofilaments (NFLs) are markers of axonal damage and are being investigated, mostly in relapsing-remitting (RR) MS, as a marker of disease activity and of response to treatment, while there are less data in progressive MS patients. Primary aim was to measure NFL in plasma samples of untreated patients with primary (PP) and secondary (SP) progressive MS and to correlate them with disability, disease severity, and prior/subsequent disability progression.

Materials And Methods: Neurofilament concentrations were measured using SIMOA (Single Molecule Array, Simoa HD-1 Analyzer; Quanterix).

Results: Neurofilament concentrations were measured on plasma samples of 70 progressive (27 PP and 43 SP), 21 RRMS patients, and 10 HCs. Longitudinal plasma NFL (pNFL) concentrations (median interval between sampling: 25 months) were available for nine PP/SP patients. PNFL concentrations were significantly higher in PP/SP compared to RRMS patients. They correlated with EDSS and MS Severity Score values. There was no difference in pNFL levels between PP/SP patients with EDSS progression in the preceding year (14% of patients) or during a median follow-up of 27 months (41%). In the longitudinal sub-study, pNFL levels increased in all patients between sampling by a mean value of 23% while EDSS mostly remained stable (77% of cases).

Conclusion: In PP/SP progressive MS patients, pNFL levels correlate with disability and increase over time, but are not associated with prior/subsequent disability progression, as measured by EDSS, which may not be a sufficiently sensitive tool in this context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ane.13152DOI Listing
January 2020

The real-world effectiveness of natalizumab and fingolimod in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. An Italian multicentre study.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2019 Aug 31;33:146-152. Epub 2019 May 31.

Neurosciences Unit, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, via Gramsci 14, Parma 43126, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: Both natalizumab and fingolimod are highly effective in the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). In the absence of head-to-head trials, some observational studies have compared their efficacy with conflicting results.

Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of natalizumab and fingolimod in a cohort of RRMS patients in an observational, retrospective study.

Methods: We included all consecutive RRMS patients who started natalizumab or fingolimod in three MS centres with a follow-up to 24 months and analysed clinical and brain MRI data after propensity score (PS) matching.

Results: After 1:1 PS-matching, we retained 102 patients in both groups, with similar baseline features. After 24 months, although both drugs resulted highly effective, patients treated with natalizumab had a lower relapse risk (HR 0.59 CI 95% 0.35-1.00, p = 0.048) and higher time to first relapse. MRI-combined-unique-activity was found in 31.8% of natalizumab vs 43.2% of fingolimod treated patients (p = 0.28). We found a higher proportion of patients with confirmed regression of disability (19.2 vs 6.7%, p = 0.03) and 2-year no evidence of disease activity (NEDA-3, 39.0% vs 22.0%, p = 0.04) in the natalizumab group.

Conclusions: Both drugs were highly effective in our cohort. Natalizumab proved superior in inducing regression of disability and 2-year-NEDA-3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2019.05.026DOI Listing
August 2019

"Better explanations" in multiple sclerosis diagnostic workup: A 3-year longitudinal study.

Neurology 2019 05 1;92(22):e2527-e2537. Epub 2019 May 1.

From the Departments of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement (M.C., A. Gajofatto) and Neurological and Movement Sciences (G.S.), University of Verona; Department of Neurosciences (C.G., C.T.), Azienda Ospedaliera San Camillo Forlanini, Roma; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neurosciences and Sense Organs (C.T., D.P.), University of Bari; Policlinico Gemelli (G.F.), Rome; Dipartimento di Biomedicina Sperimentale e Neuroscienze Cliniche (BIONEC) (P.R.), Università di Palermo; Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo (R.F.), Pozzilli; Department of Neurology and Psychiatry (L.P.), Sapienza University of Rome; Multiple Sclerosis Center (P.A.), ASST Valle Olona, PO di Gallarate; Multiple Sclerosis Center (C.C.), Ospedale di Montichiari, Spedali Civili di Brescia; Clinica Neurologica (M.D.), Dipartimento di Medicina, Università di Perugia; Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neurosciences (D.F.), University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena; Neurologia 2-CRESM (S.M.), AOU San Luigi Gonzaga, Orbassano; Multiple Sclerosis Centre (S.L.), A.O.U. Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele, Catania; Neurology Clinic (G.D.), Multiple Sclerosis Center, SS. Annunziata Hospital, Chieti; Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience (M.L.S.), University of Siena; Department of Medical Science and Public Health (E.C.), University of Cagliari; Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic and Aging Science (A. Gallo), University of Campania; Department of Neuroscience, Reproductive Sciences (R.L.), University Federico II, Naples, Italy; Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences (V.T.), Cardiff University School of Medicine, UK; Ospedale di Vaio (I.P.), Centro SM, Fidenza, Parma; Ospedale San Raffaele (M.E.R.), Milan; and Department of Rehabilitation (C.S.), Mons L Novarese Hospital, Moncrivello, Italy.

Background: The exclusion of other diseases that can mimic multiple sclerosis (MS) is the cornerstone of current diagnostic criteria. However, data on the frequency of MS mimics in real life are incomplete.

Methods: A total of 695 patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of MS in any of the 22 RIREMS centers underwent a detailed diagnostic workup, including a brain and spinal cord MRI scan, CSF and blood examinations, and a 3-year clinical and radiologic follow-up.

Findings: A total of 667 patients completed the study. Alternative diagnoses were formulated in 163 (24.4%) cases, the most frequent being nonspecific neurologic symptoms in association with atypical MRI lesions of suspected vascular origin (40 patients), migraine with atypical lesions (24 patients), and neuromyelitis optica (14 patients). MS was diagnosed in 401 (60.1%) patients according to the 2017 diagnostic criteria. The multivariate analysis revealed that the absence of CSF oligoclonal immunoglobulin G bands (IgG-OB) (odds ratio [OR] 18.113), the presence of atypical MRI lesions (OR 10.977), the absence of dissemination in space (DIS) of the lesions (OR 5.164), and normal visual evoked potentials (OR 3.550) were all independent predictors of an alternative diagnosis.

Interpretation: This observational, unsponsored, real-life study, based on clinical practice, showed that diseases that mimicked MS were many, but more than 45% were represented by nonspecific neurologic symptoms with atypical MRI lesions of suspected vascular origin, migraine, and neuromyelitis optica. The absence of IgG-OB and DIS, the presence of atypical MRI lesions, and normal visual evoked potentials should be considered suggestive of an alternative disease and red flags for the misdiagnosis of MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000007573DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6659006PMC
May 2019