Publications by authors named "Eugenio Pucci"

61 Publications

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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February 2021

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

Mult Scler 2021 Apr 8;27(5):695-705. 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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April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Early cerebellar presentation is associated with unfavourable outcomes, while early brainstem presentation is associated with favourable prognosis. These presentations may be used as MS prognostic markers and guide therapeutic approach.
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April 2021

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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May 2020

Conflicts of interest and Scientific Societies.

Neurol Sci 2020 Aug 16;41(8):2095-2102. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Bioethics Unit, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, via Pilastroni 4, 25125, Brescia, Italy.

The purpose of this paper is to bring attention to the complex issue of conflicts of interest (COIs) from the point of view of Scientific Societies and their responsibility in managing secondary interests possibly undermining their activities such as improvement of professional quality, research promotion, and development of guidelines. The first publication on the issue of COIs dates back to more than a century, but only in the last decades the related ethical and legal problems have received public and professional attention. The growing role of industry in biomedical research, the significant decrease in public contributions to health, care, training, and research, and the involvement of physicians in industry-funded research have obliged to study how to identify and manage COIs. The Bioethics and Palliative Care Study Group of the Italian Neurological Society addressed the issue with a specific focus on Scientific Societies that, in our opinion, should also set an example for individual practice, raising awareness among their associates on COIs and implementing strategies for their identification and management. The paper is focused on the nature of the COI, why and how it could be managed, which policies can be implemented, and which kind of action should be considered by Scientific Societies. We emphasize the role of Scientific Societies in fostering knowledge and awareness of conflicts of interest through training and continuing education.
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August 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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February 2020

Redefining the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS): The effect of sex and onset phenotype.

Mult Scler 2020 11 31;26(13):1765-1774. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia.

Background: The Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) is a widely used measure of the disability progression rate. However, the global MSSS may not be the best basis for comparison between all patient groups.

Objective: We evaluated sex-specific and onset phenotype-specific MSSS matrices to determine if they were more effective than the global MSSS as a basis for comparison within these subsets.

Methods: Using a large international dataset of multiple sclerosis (MS) patient records and the original MSSS algorithm, we constructed global, sex-specific and onset phenotype-specific MSSS matrices. We compared matrices using permutation analysis.

Results: Our final dataset included 30,203 MS cases, with 28.9% males and 6.5% progressive-onset cases. Our global MSSS matrix did not differ from previously published data ( > 0.05). The progressive-onset-specific matrix differed significantly from the relapsing-onset-specific matrix ( < 0.001), with lower MSSS attributed to cases with the same Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) and disease duration. When evaluated with a simulation, using an onset-specific MSSS improved statistical power in mixed cohorts. There were no significant differences by sex.

Conclusion: The differences in the disability accrual rate between progressive- and relapsing-onset MS have a significant effect on MSSS. An onset-specific MSSS should be used when comparing the rate of disability progression among progressive-onset cases and for mixed cohorts.
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November 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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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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January 2020

There is an urgent need for palliative care specialists in MS - Yes.

Mult Scler 2019 11 25;25(13):1710-1711. Epub 2019 Jul 25.

UOC Neurologia, ASUR Marche, Fermo, Italy.

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November 2019

Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty for treatment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) in people with multiple sclerosis.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2019 05 31;5:CD009903. Epub 2019 May 31.

Department of Paediatrics, American Mission Hospital, Manama, Manama, Bahrain, PO Box 1.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a leading cause of neurological disability in young adults. The most widely accepted hypothesis regarding its pathogenesis is that it is an immune-mediated disease. It has been hypothesised that intraluminal defects, compression, or hypoplasia in the internal jugular or azygos veins may be important factors in the pathogenesis of MS. This condition has been named 'chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency' (CCSVI). It has been suggested that these intraluminal defects restrict the normal blood flow from the brain and spinal cord, causing the deposition of iron in the brain and the eventual triggering of an auto-immune response. The proposed treatment for CCSVI is venous percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA), which is claimed to improve the blood flow in the brain thereby alleviating some of the symptoms of MS. This is an update of a review first published in 2012.

Objectives: To assess the benefit and safety of venous PTA in people with MS and CCSVI.

Search Methods: We searched the Cochrane Multiple Sclerosis and Rare Diseases of the Central Nervous System Group's Specialised Register up to 30 August 2018, CENTRAL (in the Cochrane Library 2018, issue 8), MEDLINE up to 30 August 2018, Embase up to 30 August 2018, metaRegister of Controlled Trials,, the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry platform. We examined the bibliographies of the included and excluded studies.

Selection Criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in which PTA and sham interventions were compared in adults with MS and CCSVI.

Data Collection And Analysis: Two authors independently assessed study eligibility and risk of bias, and extracted data. We reported results as risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). We performed statistical analyses using the random-effects model; and we assessed the certainty of the evidence using GRADE.

Main Results: We included three RCTs (238 participants) in this update. One hundred and thirty-four participants were randomised to PTA and 104 to sham treatment. We attributed low risk of bias to two (67%) studies for sequence generation and two (67%) studies for performance bias. All studies were at a low risk of detection bias, attrition bias, reporting bias and other potential sources of bias.There was moderate-quality evidence to suggest that venous PTA did not increase the proportion of patients who had operative or post-operative serious adverse events compared with the sham procedure (RR 3.33, 95% CI 0.36 to 30.44; 3 studies, 238 participants); nor did it increase the proportion of patients who improved on a functional composite measure including walking control, balance, manual dexterity, postvoid residual urine volume, and visual acuity over 12-month follow-up (RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.55 to 1.30; 1 study, 110 participants); nor did it reduce the proportion of patients who experienced new relapses at six- or 12-month follow-up (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.49; 3 studies, 235 participants). There was no effect of venous PTA on disability worsening measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale, which was reported at follow-up intervals of six months (one study), 11 months (one study) and 12 months (one study). Quality of life was reported in two studies with no difference between treatment groups. Moderate or severe pain during or post venography was reported in both PTA and sham-procedure participants in all included studies. Venous PTA was not effective in restoring blood flow assessed at one-month (one study) or 12-month follow-up (one study).

Authors' Conclusions: This systematic review identified moderate-quality evidence that, compared with sham procedure, venous PTA intervention did not provide benefit on patient-centred outcomes (disability, physical or cognitive functions, relapses, quality of life) in people with MS. Venous PTA has proven to be a safe technique but in view of the available evidence of its ineffectiveness, this intervention cannot be recommended in people with MS. All ongoing trials were withdrawn or terminated and hence this updated review is conclusive. No further randomised clinical studies are needed.
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May 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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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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April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions: We report low pregnancy incidence rates, with increasing number of pregnancies conceived on DMT over the past 12-years. The median duration of DMT exposure in pregnancy was relatively short at one month.
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February 2019

No evidence of disease activity (NEDA-3) and disability improvement after alemtuzumab treatment for multiple sclerosis: a 36-month real-world study.

J Neurol 2018 Dec 26;265(12):2851-2860. Epub 2018 Sep 26.

Neurology Unit, Osp.e Santa Maria della Misericordia, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

In this retrospective, multicenter, real-world study we collected clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of all patients (n = 40) with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) treated with alemtuzumab according to a "free-of-charge" protocol available before the drug marketing approval in Italy. Almost all (39/40) started alemtuzumab after discontinuing multiple disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) because of either lack of response or safety concerns. We considered the proportion of alemtuzumab-treated patients who had no evidence of disease activity (NEDA-3) and disability improvement over a 36-month follow-up period. NEDA-3 was defined as absence of relapses, disability worsening, and MRI activity. Disability improvement was defined as a sustained reduction of ≥ 1-point in Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score. At follow-up, 18 (45%) patients achieved NEDA-3, 30 (75%) were relapse-free, 33 (82.5%) were EDSS worsening-free, and 25 (62.5%) were MRI activity-free. Eleven (27.5%) patients had a sustained disability improvement. We found no predictor for the NEDA-3 status, while the interaction of higher EDSS score by higher number of pre-alemtuzumab relapses was associated with a greater chance of disability improvement (odds ratio 1.10, p = 0.049). Our study provides real-world evidence that alemtuzumab can promote clinical and MRI disease remission, as well as disability improvement, in a significant proportion of patients with RRMS despite prior multiple DMT failures. The drug safety profile was consistent with data available from clinical trials.
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December 2018

Silent lesions on MRI imaging - Shifting goal posts for treatment decisions in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2018 10 20;24(12):1569-1577. Epub 2018 Sep 20.

Department of Neurology, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia/ School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Background: The current best practice suggests yearly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor treatment response in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

Objective: To evaluate the current practice of clinicians changing MS treatment based on subclinical new MRI lesions alone.

Methods: Using MSBase, an international MS patient registry with MRI data, we analysed the probability of treatment change among patients with clinically silent new MRI lesions.

Results: A total of 8311 MRI brain scans of 4232 patients were identified. Around 26.9% (336/1247) MRIs with one new T2 lesion were followed by disease-modifying therapy (DMT) change, increasing to 50.2% (129/257) with six new T2 lesions. DMT change was twice as likely with new T1 contrast enhancing compared to new T2 lesions odds ratio (OR): 2.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.00-2.96 vs OR: 1.26 (95% CI: 1.22-1.29). DMT change with new MRI lesions occurred most frequently with 'injectable' DMTs. The probability of switching therapy was greater only after high-efficacy therapies became available in 2007 (after, OR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.28-1.59 vs before, OR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.520-1.88).

Conclusion: MS clinicians rely increasingly on MRI alone in their treatment decisions, utilizing low thresholds (1 new T2 lesion) for optimizing MS therapy. This signals a shift towards no evidence of disease activity (NEDA)-3 since high-efficacy therapies became available.
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October 2018

Predictors of relapse and disability progression in MS patients who discontinue disease-modifying therapy.

J Neurol Sci 2018 08 2;391:72-76. Epub 2018 Jun 2.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Box Hill Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Discontinuation of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for MS is common. MSBase, a large global observational registry, affords a unique opportunity to investigate predictors of 'post-DMT' relapses and confirmed disability progression (CDP) in a diverse group of patients exposed to different DMTs.

Materials/methods: Main inclusion criteria: clinician-confirmed MS diagnosis (2010 McDonald criteria); age ≥ 18 at index DMT start; ≥12 months on index DMT prior to discontinuation; ≥24 months of follow-up post-discontinuation; did not restart DMT for ≥6 months. Predictors of time to first relapse and 3-month CDP were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression adjusted for age, gender, baseline EDSS, EDSS stability and relapse-free period for ≥1 year prior to discontinuation, calendar epoch, index DMT and reason for discontinuation.

Results: 4842 patients (74.2% female) from 20 MSBase Centers met our inclusion criteria. 3556 (73%) discontinued one of IFNβ preparations, 849 (18%) - glatiramer acetate, 308 (6%) - natalizumab and 129 (3%) - fingolimod; other DMTs were excluded because too few records were available. Overall post-discontinuation annualized relapse rate (95% CI) was 0.224 (0.219, 0.229) and CDP rate was 8.23 (7.72, 8.76) per 100 person-years. Risk of post-DMT relapse was higher in younger patients, female patients, those with moderate disability and a relapse within 1 year of discontinuation. Hazard of CDP increased with increasing disability at baseline and disease progression within 3 years prior to stopping DMT. Of all the DMTs, only natalizumab was associated with increased risk of both post-DMT relapse and CDP.

Conclusions: Knowledge of post-DMT relapse and disability progression rates and predictors of post-DMT disease activity allows for a more informed discussion of DMT discontinuation in those patients who are considering this option.
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August 2018

Association of Inflammation and Disability Accrual in Patients With Progressive-Onset Multiple Sclerosis.

JAMA Neurol 2018 11;75(11):1407-1415

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Importance: The role of inflammatory disease activity as a determinant of disability in progressive-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) remains contested.

Objective: To examine the association of superimposed relapses in progressive-onset MS on disease outcomes.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Observational cohort study from MSBase, a prospectively collected, international database. Data were collected between January 1995 and February 2017. Analyses began in February 2017. From 44 449 patients at time of extraction, 1419 eligible patients (31.9%) were identified for analysis. Inclusion criteria consisted of primary progressive MS (PPMS) or progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS), adult-onset disease, and minimum data set (including ≥3 visits with disability recorded, ≥3 months between second and last visit). Data were analyzed using multivariable regression models (Andersen-Gill) with mixed effects. Two sensitivity analyses to exclude both relapse-related disability progression and bout-onset progressive MS were performed.

Exposures: Grouped according to presence or absence of relapse, defined as an acute episode of clinical worsening. Quantifiable disability change or correlation on imaging was not required to confirm relapse.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Cumulative hazard of disability progression.

Results: Patients with PRMS were younger than those with PPMS (mean [SD] age, 46 [15] vs 51 [10] years, Cohen d = 0.40) and demonstrated a mean lower Expanded Disability Status Scale score (mean [SD] score, 4.0 [3] vs 4.5 [2.5], Cohen d = 0.28) at inclusion. The ratio of men to women was similar in the PRMS and PPMS groups (252:301 vs 394:472). The overall mean (SD) age was 48 (11) years for men and 50 (10) years for women. Likelihood of confirmed disability progression was lower in patients with superimposed relapses (hazard ratio [HR], 0.83; 95% CI, 0.74-0.94; P = .003). Proportion of follow-up time spent on disease-modifying therapy significantly reduced the hazard of confirmed disability progression in the cohort with relapse (HR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.99; P = .01) but not in those without relapse (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.99-1.05; P = .26). When accounting for relapse-related progression, the association of disease-modifying therapy in the cohort with superimposed relapse was no longer observed (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.96-1.24; P = .16).

Conclusions And Relevance: In progressive-onset MS, superimposed relapses are associated with a lower risk of confirmed disability progression. This is most likely attributed to the association of disease-modifying therapy with the prevention of relapse-related disability accrual in patients with superimposed relapse. These findings suggest that inflammatory relapses are an important and modifiable determinant of disability accrual in progressive-onset disease.
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November 2018

Lymphocyte count in peripheral blood is not associated with the level of clinical response to treatment with fingolimod.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2018 Jan 22;19:105-108. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Box Hill Hospital, Eastern Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Fingolimod is an efficient and safe drug for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). In vivo, fingolimod is phosphorylated and binds to "sphingosine-1-phosphate"(S1P) receptors that are expressed in a wide range of cells, including lymphocytes. Under the effect of fingolimod, lymphocytes are retained in lymphoid tissues through the regulation of S1P receptors. The aim of the present study was to assess whether the degree of lymphopenia was correlated to the positive treatment response of RRMS patients with fingolimod.

Methods: Data was sourced from the MSBase Registry. Patients were divided into two groups, according to the lymphocyte count on peripheral blood examination. Annualized Relapse Rate (ARR), time to first relapse and time to six-month confirmed disability progression were compared between groups.

Results: Group one consisted of 202 patients who reached 750 lymphocytes/mm during treatment while the comparison group two included 101 patients who never reached less than 1000 lymphocytes/mm in peripheral blood during the observation period. There were no differences between groups in ARR, time to first relapse or time to six-month confirmed disability progression.

Conclusion: The degree of lymphopenia in peripheral blood was not associated to the positive treatment response of fingolimod in RRMS patients.
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January 2018

Towards personalized therapy for multiple sclerosis: prediction of individual treatment response.

Brain 2017 Sep;140(9):2426-2443

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, 300 Grattan St, Melbourne, 3050, Australia.

Timely initiation of effective therapy is crucial for preventing disability in multiple sclerosis; however, treatment response varies greatly among patients. Comprehensive predictive models of individual treatment response are lacking. Our aims were: (i) to develop predictive algorithms for individual treatment response using demographic, clinical and paraclinical predictors in patients with multiple sclerosis; and (ii) to evaluate accuracy, and internal and external validity of these algorithms. This study evaluated 27 demographic, clinical and paraclinical predictors of individual response to seven disease-modifying therapies in MSBase, a large global cohort study. Treatment response was analysed separately for disability progression, disability regression, relapse frequency, conversion to secondary progressive disease, change in the cumulative disease burden, and the probability of treatment discontinuation. Multivariable survival and generalized linear models were used, together with the principal component analysis to reduce model dimensionality and prevent overparameterization. Accuracy of the individual prediction was tested and its internal validity was evaluated in a separate, non-overlapping cohort. External validity was evaluated in a geographically distinct cohort, the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry. In the training cohort (n = 8513), the most prominent modifiers of treatment response comprised age, disease duration, disease course, previous relapse activity, disability, predominant relapse phenotype and previous therapy. Importantly, the magnitude and direction of the associations varied among therapies and disease outcomes. Higher probability of disability progression during treatment with injectable therapies was predominantly associated with a greater disability at treatment start and the previous therapy. For fingolimod, natalizumab or mitoxantrone, it was mainly associated with lower pretreatment relapse activity. The probability of disability regression was predominantly associated with pre-baseline disability, therapy and relapse activity. Relapse incidence was associated with pretreatment relapse activity, age and relapsing disease course, with the strength of these associations varying among therapies. Accuracy and internal validity (n = 1196) of the resulting predictive models was high (>80%) for relapse incidence during the first year and for disability outcomes, moderate for relapse incidence in Years 2-4 and for the change in the cumulative disease burden, and low for conversion to secondary progressive disease and treatment discontinuation. External validation showed similar results, demonstrating high external validity for disability and relapse outcomes, moderate external validity for cumulative disease burden and low external validity for conversion to secondary progressive disease and treatment discontinuation. We conclude that demographic, clinical and paraclinical information helps predict individual response to disease-modifying therapies at the time of their commencement.
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September 2017

Anti-inflammatory disease-modifying treatment and short-term disability progression in SPMS.

Neurology 2017 Sep 9;89(10):1050-1059. Epub 2017 Aug 9.

Objective: To investigate the effect of disease-modifying treatment on short-term disability outcomes in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).

Methods: Using MSBase, an international cohort study, we previously validated a highly accurate definition of SPMS. Here, we identified patients in MSBase who were either untreated or treated with a disease-modifying drug when meeting this definition. Propensity score matching was used to select subpopulations with comparable baseline characteristics. Disability outcomes were compared in paired, pairwise-censored analyses adjusted for treatment persistence, visit density, and relapse rates.

Results: Of the 2,381 included patients, 1,378 patients were matchable (treated n = 689, untreated n = 689). Median pairwise-censored follow-up was 2.1 years (quartiles 1.2-3.8 years). No difference in the risk of 6-month sustained disability progression was observed between the groups (hazard ratio [HR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7-1.1, = 0.27). We also did not find differences in any of the secondary endpoints: risk of reaching Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ≥7 (HR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-1.1, = 0.10), sustained disability reduction (HR 1.0, 95% CI 0.8-1.3, = 0.79), or change in disability burden (area under the EDSS-time curve, β = -0.05, = 0.09). Secondary and sensitivity analyses confirmed the results.

Conclusions: Our pooled analysis of the currently available disease-modifying agents used after conversion to SPMS suggests that, on average, these therapies have no substantial effect on relapse-unrelated disability outcomes measured by the EDSS up to 4 years.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with SPMS, disease-modifying treatment has no beneficial effect on short-term disability progression.
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September 2017

Impact of Ki67 re-assessment at time of disease progression in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms.

PLoS One 2017 23;12(6):e0179445. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Digestive and Liver Disease Unit, Sant'Andrea Hospital Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy.

Background: Although re-assessment of proliferative activity by K67 evaluation during the course of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) is recommended in selected patients, its impact on patients' management is not clear due to the lack of data supporting this practice.

Aim: To investigate Ki67 change at time of progressive disease (PD) in entero-pancreatic NENs (EP-NENs).

Patients And Methods: Retrospective analysis of sporadic EP-NENs which received histological re-assessment after PD once radiologically documented.

Results: Forty-three patients were evaluated, including 24 pancreatic NENs (PNENs), and 19 small intestine NENs (SI-NENs). At time of initial histological evaluation, 19 patients had grade 1 (G1) NETs (44.2%), and 24 grade 2 (G2) NETs (55.8%), overall median Ki67 being 3% (range 1%-20%). At time of PD, 13 patients had G1 NETs (30.2%), 26 G2 NETs (60.5%), and 4 had grade 3 (G3) NECs (9.3%), thus resulting in a significant median Ki67 increase (8%, range 1%-70%; p = 0.0006), and a G upgrading in 12 patients (27.9%). A statistically significant Ki67 increase and G grading change at time of PD was observed in PNENs (p = 0.0005 and p = 0.028, respectively). Conversely, no statistically significant change occurred in non-PNENs.

Conclusions: In PNENs with documented PD, Ki67 increase occurs in a significant proportion of patients, providing useful information necessary to choose appropriate therapeutic options.
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September 2017

[Conscience clause in end-of-life care.]

Recenti Prog Med 2017 May;108(5):216-220

UOC Neurologia, Macerata.

The article proposes a critical reflection on issues that appeal to the conscience clause as part of end of life care can produce and what can guarantee freedom of conscience, self-determination of those involved and respect for the dignity of the sick person. After a philosophical and normative analysis, the article is organized on the basis of two important documents for discussion: a position paper of Società Italiana di Anestesia Analgesia Rianimazione e Terapia Intensiva (SIAARTI) signed by several scientific societies "Grandi insufficienze d'organo end stage: cure intensive o cure palliative?" and the Design of Law currently being debated "Norme in materia di consenso informato e di disposizioni anticipate di trattamento". In particular, the conscience clause has been discussed in the light of advance care planning (ACP), which represents the instrument to guarantee the shared planning of care and the shared-decision making. In this context, recourse to the clause of conscience brings out critical ethical and deontological issues that the article discusses, using the position paper SIAARTI and the text of law currently being debated, both built on the assumptions of a shared care relationship, where patient has a key-role in medical decisions.
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May 2017

Prognostic indicators in pediatric clinically isolated syndrome.

Ann Neurol 2017 May;81(5):729-739

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

Objective: To assess prognostic factors for a second clinical attack and a first disability-worsening event in pediatric clinically isolated syndrome (pCIS) suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

Methods: A cohort of 770 pCIS patients was followed up for at least 10 years. Cox proportional hazard models and Recursive Partitioning and Amalgamation (RECPAM) tree-regression were used to analyze data.

Results: In pCIS, female sex and a multifocal onset were risk factors for a second clinical attack (hazard ratio [HR], 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.28, 1.06-1.55; 1.42, 1.10-1.84, respectively), whereas disease-modifying drug (DMD) exposure reduced this risk (HR, 95% CI = 0.75, 0.60-0.95). After pediatric onset MS (POMS) diagnosis, age at onset younger than 15 years and DMD exposure decreased the risk of a first Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS)-worsening event (HR, 95% CI = 0.59, 0.42-0.83; 0.75, 0.71-0.80, respectively), whereas the occurrence of relapse increased this risk (HR, 95% CI = 5.08, 3.46-7.46). An exploratory RECPAM analysis highlighted a significantly higher incidence of a first EDSS-worsening event in patients with multifocal or isolated spinal cord or optic neuritis involvement at onset in comparison to those with an isolated supratentorial or brainstem syndrome. A Cox regression model including RECPAM classes confirmed DMD exposure as the most protective factor against EDSS-worsening events and relapses as the most important risk factor for attaining EDSS worsening.

Interpretation: This work represents a step forward in identifying predictors of unfavorable course in pCIS and POMS and supports a protective effect of early DMD treatment in preventing MS development and disability accumulation in this population. Ann Neurol 2017;81:729-739.
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May 2017

Long-term disability trajectories in primary progressive MS patients: A latent class growth analysis.

Mult Scler 2018 04 6;24(5):642-652. Epub 2017 Apr 6.

Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Background: Several natural history studies on primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) patients detected a consistent heterogeneity in the rate of disability accumulation.

Objectives: To identify subgroups of PPMS patients with similar longitudinal trajectories of Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) over time.

Methods: All PPMS patients collected within the MSBase registry, who had their first EDSS assessment within 5 years from onset, were included in the analysis. Longitudinal EDSS scores were modeled by a latent class mixed model (LCMM), using a nonlinear function of time from onset. LCMM is an advanced statistical approach that models heterogeneity between patients by classifying them into unobserved groups showing similar characteristics.

Results: A total of 853 PPMS (51.7% females) from 24 countries with a mean age at onset of 42.4 years (standard deviation (SD): 10.8 years), a median baseline EDSS of 4 (interquartile range (IQR): 2.5-5.5), and 2.4 years of disease duration (SD: 1.5 years) were included. LCMM detected three different subgroups of patients with a mild ( n = 143; 16.8%), moderate ( n = 378; 44.3%), or severe ( n = 332; 38.9%) disability trajectory. The probability of reaching EDSS 6 at 10 years was 0%, 46.4%, and 81.9% respectively.

Conclusion: Applying an LCMM modeling approach to long-term EDSS data, it is possible to identify groups of PPMS patients with different prognosis.
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April 2018

Treatment effectiveness of alemtuzumab compared with natalizumab, fingolimod, and interferon beta in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a cohort study.

Lancet Neurol 2017 04 11;16(4):271-281. Epub 2017 Feb 11.

Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Background: Alemtuzumab, an anti-CD52 antibody, is proven to be more efficacious than interferon beta-1a in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, but its efficacy relative to more potent immunotherapies is unknown. We compared the effectiveness of alemtuzumab with natalizumab, fingolimod, and interferon beta in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis treated for up to 5 years.

Methods: In this international cohort study, we used data from propensity-matched patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis from the MSBase and six other cohorts. Longitudinal clinical data were obtained from 71 MSBase centres in 21 countries and from six non-MSBase centres in the UK and Germany between Nov 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. Key inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of definite relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, exposure to one of the study therapies (alemtuzumab, interferon beta, fingolimod, or natalizumab), age 65 years or younger, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score 6·5 or lower, and no more than 10 years since the first multiple sclerosis symptom. The primary endpoint was annualised relapse rate. The secondary endpoints were cumulative hazards of relapses, disability accumulation, and disability improvement events. We compared relapse rates with negative binomial models, and estimated cumulative hazards with conditional proportional hazards models.

Findings: Patients were treated between Aug 1, 1994, and June 30, 2016. The cohorts consisted of 189 patients given alemtuzumab, 2155 patients given interferon beta, 828 patients given fingolimod, and 1160 patients given natalizumab. Alemtuzumab was associated with a lower annualised relapse rate than interferon beta (0·19 [95% CI 0·14-0·23] vs 0·53 [0·46-0·61], p<0·0001) and fingolimod (0·15 [0·10-0·20] vs 0·34 [0·26-0·41], p<0·0001), and was associated with a similar annualised relapse rate as natalizumab (0·20 [0·14-0·26] vs 0·19 [0·15-0·23], p=0·78). For the disability outcomes, alemtuzumab was associated with similar probabilities of disability accumulation as interferon beta (hazard ratio [HR] 0·66 [95% CI 0·36-1·22], p=0·37), fingolimod (1·27 [0·60-2·70], p=0·67), and natalizumab (0·81 [0·47-1·39], p=0·60). Alemtuzumab was associated with similar probabilities of disability improvement as interferon beta (0·98 [0·65-1·49], p=0·93) and fingolimod (0·50 [0·25-1·01], p=0·18), and a lower probability of disability improvement than natalizumab (0·35 [0·20-0·59], p=0·0006).

Interpretation: Alemtuzumab and natalizumab seem to have similar effects on annualised relapse rates in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Alemtuzumab seems superior to fingolimod and interferon beta in mitigating relapse activity. Natalizumab seems superior to alemtuzumab in enabling recovery from disability. Both natalizumab and alemtuzumab seem highly effective and viable immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis. Treatment decisions between alemtuzumab and natalizumab should be primarily governed by their safety profiles.

Funding: National Health and Medical Research Council, and the University of Melbourne.
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April 2017

Quantifying risk of early relapse in patients with first demyelinating events: Prediction in clinical practice.

Mult Scler 2017 Sep 25;23(10):1346-1357. Epub 2016 Nov 25.

Department of Neurology, Box Hill hospital, Monash University, Box Hill, VIC, Australia.

Background: Characteristics at clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) examination assist in identification of patient at highest risk of early second attack and could benefit the most from early disease-modifying drugs (DMDs).

Objective: To examine determinants of second attack and validate a prognostic nomogram for individualised risk assessment of clinical conversion.

Methods: Patients with CIS were prospectively followed up in the MSBase Incident Study. Predictors of clinical conversion were analysed using Cox proportional hazards regression. Prognostic nomograms were derived to calculate conversion probability and validated using concordance indices.

Results: A total of 3296 patients from 50 clinics in 22 countries were followed up for a median (inter-quartile range (IQR)) of 1.92 years (0.90, 3.71). In all, 1953 (59.3%) patients recorded a second attack. Higher Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at baseline, first symptom location, oligoclonal bands and various brain and spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) metrics were all predictors of conversion. Conversely, older age and DMD exposure post-CIS were associated with reduced rates. Prognostic nomograms demonstrated high concordance between estimated and observed conversion probabilities.

Conclusion: This multinational study shows that age at CIS onset, DMD exposure, EDSS, multiple brain and spinal MRI criteria and oligoclonal bands are associated with shorter time to relapse. Nomogram assessment may be useful in clinical practice for estimating future clinical conversion.
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September 2017

Higher latitude is significantly associated with an earlier age of disease onset in multiple sclerosis.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2016 Dec 3;87(12):1343-1349. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Background: Age at onset (AAO) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is an important marker of disease severity and may have prognostic significance. Understanding what factors can influence AAO may shed light on the aetiology of this complex disease, and have applications in the diagnostic process.

Methods: The study cohort of 22 162 eligible patients from 21 countries was extracted from the MSBase registry. Only patients with MS aged ≥16 years were included. To reduce heterogeneity, only centres of largely European descent were included for analysis. AAO was defined as the year of the first symptom suggestive of inflammatory central nervous system demyelination. Predictors of AAO were evaluated by linear regression.

Results: Compared with those living in lower latitudes (19.0-39.9°), onset of symptoms was 1.9 years earlier for those at higher latitudes (50.0-56.0°) (p=3.83×10). A reciprocal relationship was seen for ambient ultraviolet radiation (UVR), with a significantly increasing AAO for patients with MS per each quartile increment of ambient UVR (p=1.56×10). We found that the AAO of female patients was ∼5 months earlier than male patients (p=0.002). AAO of progressive-onset patients with MS were ∼9 years later than relapsing-onset patients (p=1.40×10).

Conclusions: An earlier AAO in higher latitude regions was found in this worldwide European-descent cohort and correlated inversely with variation in latitudinal UVR. These results suggest that environmental factors which act at the population level may significantly influence disease severity characteristics in genetically susceptible populations.
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December 2016