Publications by authors named "Freek Verheul"

36 Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.2109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6248114PMC
November 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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awx185DOI Listing
September 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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458517703800DOI Listing
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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(17)30007-8DOI Listing
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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458516679893DOI Listing
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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2016-314013DOI Listing
December 2016

Highly active immunomodulatory therapy ameliorates accumulation of disability in moderately advanced and advanced multiple sclerosis.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2017 Mar 28;88(3):196-203. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

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

Objective: To evaluate variability and predictability of disability trajectories in moderately advanced and advanced multiple sclerosis (MS), and their modifiability with immunomodulatory therapy.

Methods: The epochs between Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) steps 3-6, 4-6 and 6-6.5 were analysed. Patients with relapse-onset MS and having reached 6-month confirmed baseline EDSS step (3/4/6) were identified in MSBase, a global observational MS cohort study. We used multivariable survival models to examine the impact of disease-modifying therapy, clinical and demographic factors on progression to the outcome EDSS step (6/6.5). Sensitivity analyses with varying outcome definitions and inclusion criteria were conducted.

Results: For the EDSS 3-6, 4-6 and 6-6.5 epochs, 1560, 1504 and 1231 patients were identified, respectively. Disability trajectories showed large coefficients of variance prebaseline (0.92-1.11) and postbaseline (2.15-2.50), with no significant correlations. The probability of reaching the outcome step was not associated with prebaseline variables, but was increased by higher relapse rates during each epoch (HRs 1.58-3.07; p<0.001). A greater proportion of each epoch treated with higher efficacy therapies was associated with lower risk of reaching the outcome disability step (HRs 0.72-0.91 per 25%; p≤0.02). 3 sensitivity analyses confirmed these results.

Conclusions: Disease progression during moderately advanced and advanced MS is highly variable and amnesic to prior disease activity. Lower relapse rates and greater time on higher efficacy immunomodulatory therapy after reaching EDSS steps 3, 4 and 6 are associated with a decreased risk of accumulating further disability. Highly effective immunomodulatory therapy ameliorates accumulation of disability in moderately advanced and advanced relapse-onset MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2016-313976DOI Listing
March 2017

Defining secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2016 09 7;139(Pt 9):2395-405. Epub 2016 Jul 7.

1 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia 2 Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

A number of studies have been conducted with the onset of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis as an inclusion criterion or an outcome of interest. However, a standardized objective definition of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis has been lacking. The aim of this work was to evaluate the accuracy and feasibility of an objective definition for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, to enable comparability of future research studies. Using MSBase, a large, prospectively acquired, global cohort study, we analysed the accuracy of 576 data-derived onset definitions for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and first compared these to a consensus opinion of three neurologists. All definitions were then evaluated against 5-year disease outcomes post-assignment of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: sustained disability, subsequent sustained progression, positive disability trajectory, and accumulation of severe disability. The five best performing definitions were further investigated for their timeliness and overall disability burden. A total of 17 356 patients were analysed. The best definition included a 3-strata progression magnitude in the absence of a relapse, confirmed after 3 months within the leading Functional System and required an Expanded Disability Status Scale step ≥4 and pyramidal score ≥2. It reached an accuracy of 87% compared to the consensus diagnosis. Seventy-eight per cent of the identified patients showed a positive disability trajectory and 70% reached significant disability after 5 years. The time until half of all patients were diagnosed was 32.6 years (95% confidence interval 32-33.6) after disease onset compared with the physicians' diagnosis at 36 (35-39) years. The identified patients experienced a greater disease burden [median annualized area under the disability-time curve 4.7 (quartiles 3.6, 6.0)] versus non-progressive patients [1.8 (1.2, 1.9)]. This objective definition of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis based on the Expanded Disability Status Scale and information about preceding relapses provides a tool for a reproducible, accurate and timely diagnosis that requires a very short confirmation period. If applied broadly, the definition has the potential to strengthen the design and improve comparability of clinical trials and observational studies in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aww173DOI Listing
September 2016

Patient-reported adverse effects of high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone treatment: a prospective web-based multi-center study in multiple sclerosis patients with a relapse.

J Neurol 2016 Aug 7;263(8):1641-51. Epub 2016 Jun 7.

2-BBB Medicines BV, J.H. Oortweg 19, 2333 CH, Leiden, The Netherlands.

In a prospective multi-center observational study, we evaluated the frequency, severity, and impact on activities of daily living (ADL) of adverse effects (AEs) of high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP) in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with a relapse. Online self-report questionnaires stating IVMP's most common AEs were completed at baseline, the 2nd day of treatment, and 1 day and 1 week after treatment. Eighty-five patients were included, 66 completed the baseline questionnaire, and 59 completed at least one post-baseline questionnaire. Patients reported on average 4 (median) AEs; two (3.4 %) reported no AE. Most frequent was change in taste (61 %), facial flushing (61 %), sick/stomach pain (53 %), sleep disturbance (44 %), appetite change (37 %), agitation (36 %), and behavioral changes (36 %). Of all AEs, 34.3 % were severe and 37.9 % impacted on ADL. A 3-day course resulted in 4 (median) AEs and a 5-day course in 7. All patients with high disease impact had two or more AEs, compared with 79 % of those with low impact (p < 0.01). Of patients with high disability, 45 % had severe AEs, compared with 16 % of those with low disability. Severe central nervous system (CNS)-related AEs occurred two times more frequently in patients with high disease impact, and two-and-a-half times more frequently in patients with high disability. Therefore, in virtually all patients, high-dose IVMP leads to AEs, with about one of three AEs being severe with impact on ADL. Patients with high disease impact or high disability may experience more (severe) AEs, due to a higher occurrence of severe CNS-related AEs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-016-8183-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4971042PMC
August 2016

Predictors of long-term disability accrual in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis.

Ann Neurol 2016 07 1;80(1):89-100. Epub 2016 Jun 1.

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

Objective: To identify predictors of 10-year Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) change after treatment initiation in patients with relapse-onset multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Using data obtained from MSBase, we defined baseline as the date of first injectable therapy initiation. Patients need only have remained on injectable therapy for 1 day and were monitored on any approved disease-modifying therapy, or no therapy thereafter. Median EDSS score changes over a 10-year period were determined. Predictors of EDSS change were then assessed using median quantile regression analysis. Sensitivity analyses were further performed.

Results: We identified 2,466 patients followed up for at least 10 years reporting post-baseline disability scores. Patients were treated an average 83% of their follow-up time. EDSS scores increased by a median 1 point (interquartile range = 0-2) at 10 years post-baseline. Annualized relapse rate was highly predictive of increases in median EDSS over 10 years (coeff = 1.14, p = 1.9 × 10(-22) ). On-therapy relapses carried greater burden than off-therapy relapses. Cumulative treatment exposure was independently associated with lower EDSS at 10 years (coeff = -0.86, p = 1.3 × 10(-9) ). Furthermore, pregnancies were also independently associated with lower EDSS scores over the 10-year observation period (coeff = -0.36, p = 0.009).

Interpretation: We provide evidence of long-term treatment benefit in a large registry cohort, and provide evidence of long-term protective effects of pregnancy against disability accrual. We demonstrate that high annualized relapse rate, particularly on-treatment relapse, is an indicator of poor prognosis. Ann Neurol 2016;80:89-100.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24682DOI Listing
July 2016

Comparative efficacy of first-line natalizumab vs IFN-β or glatiramer acetate in relapsing MS.

Neurol Clin Pract 2016 Apr;6(2):102-115

Department of Medicine and Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (TS, TK, VJ, HB), University of Melbourne, Australia; Biogen Idec Inc. (AZ, FP, SB, RH), Cambridge, MA; Department of Neurology (HW), University of Münster, Germany; Groene Hart Ziekenhuis (FV), Gouda, the Netherlands; MS Center, Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences (AL), University "G. d'Annunzio," Chieti, Italy; MS Center, Department of Neurology, First Medical Faculty (EH, DH), Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; Center de Réadaptation Déficience Physique Chaudière-Appalache (PG), Levis; Hôpital Notre Dame (PD, AP), Montreal, Canada; Ospedali Riuniti di Salerno (G. Iuliano), Salerno, Italy; 19 Mayis University (M. Terzi), Medical Faculty, Turkey; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G. Izquierdo), Sevilla, Spain; Orbis Medical Centre (RMMH), Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands; KTU Medical Faculty Farabi Hospital (CB), Trabzon, Turkey; Neurology Unit (EP, GG), ASUR Marche-AV3, Macerata; Nuovo Ospedale Civile S. Agostino (PS), Modena; AORN San Giuseppe Moscati (DLAS), Avellino, Italy; John Hunter Hospital (JL-S), Newcastle, Australia; Neurological Institute IRCCS Mondino (RB), Pavia, Italy; Neuro Rive-Sud (F. Grand'Maison), Hôpital Charles LeMoyne, Quebec, Canada; University of Parma (F. Granella), Italy; Department of Neurology (LK), University Hospital Basel, Switzerland; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs (M. Trojano), University of Bari, Italy; and Department of Neurology (HB), Eastern Health, Monash University, Australia.

Background: We compared efficacy and treatment persistence in treatment-naive patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) initiating natalizumab compared with interferon-β (IFN-β)/glatiramer acetate (GA) therapies, using propensity score-matched cohorts from observational multiple sclerosis registries.

Methods: The study population initiated IFN-β/GA in the MSBase Registry or natalizumab in the Tysabri Observational Program, had ≥3 months of on-treatment follow-up, and had active RRMS, defined as ≥1 gadolinium-enhancing lesion on cerebral MRI at baseline or ≥1 relapse within the 12 months prior to baseline. Baseline demographics and disease characteristics were balanced between propensity-matched groups. Annualized relapse rate (ARR), time to first relapse, treatment persistence, and disability outcomes were compared between matched treatment arms in the total population (n = 366/group) and subgroups with higher baseline disease activity.

Results: First-line natalizumab was associated with a 68% relative reduction in ARR from a mean (SD) of 0.63 (0.92) on IFN-β/GA to 0.20 (0.63) ( [signed-rank] < 0.0001), a 64% reduction in the rate of first relapse (hazard ratio [HR] 0.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.28-0.47; < 0.001), and a 27% reduction in the rate of discontinuation (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.58-0.93; = 0.01), compared with first-line IFN-β/GA therapy. Confirmed disability progression and area under the Expanded Disability Status Scale-time curve analyses were not significant. Similar relapse and treatment persistence results were observed in each of the higher disease activity subgroups.

Conclusions: This study provides Class IV evidence that first-line natalizumab for RRMS improves relapse and treatment persistence outcomes compared to first-line IFN-β/GA. This needs to be balanced against the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in natalizumab-treated patients.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that first-line natalizumab for RRMS improves relapse rates and treatment persistence outcomes compared to first-line IFN-β/GA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000227DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828679PMC
April 2016

Contribution of different relapse phenotypes to disability in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2017 Feb 11;23(2):266-276. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

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

Objective: This study evaluated the effect of relapse phenotype on disability accumulation in multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Analysis of prospectively collected data was conducted in 19,504 patients with relapse-onset multiple sclerosis and minimum 1-year prospective follow-up from the MSBase cohort study. Multivariable linear regression models assessed associations between relapse incidence, phenotype and changes in disability (quantified with Expanded Disability Status Scale and its Functional System scores). Sensitivity analyses were conducted.

Results: In 34,858 relapses recorded during 136,462 patient-years (median follow-up 5.9 years), higher relapse incidence was associated with greater disability accumulation (β = 0.16, p < 0.001). Relapses of all phenotypes promoted disability accumulation, with the most pronounced increase associated with pyramidal (β = 0.27 (0.25-0.29)), cerebellar (β = 0.35 (0.30-0.39)) and bowel/bladder (β = 0.42 (0.35-0.49)) phenotypes (mean (95% confidence interval)). Higher incidence of each relapse phenotype was associated with an increase in disability in the corresponding neurological domain, as well as anatomically related domains.

Conclusion: Relapses are associated with accumulation of neurological disability. Relapses in pyramidal, cerebellar and bowel/bladder systems have the greatest association with disability change. Therefore, prevention of these relapses is an important objective of disease-modifying therapy. The differential impact of relapse phenotypes on disability outcomes could influence management of treatment failure in multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458516643392DOI Listing
February 2017

The interactive web-based program MSmonitor for self-management and multidisciplinary care in multiple sclerosis: utilization and valuation by patients.

Patient Prefer Adherence 2016 3;10:243-50. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Curavista bv, Geertruidenberg, the Netherlands.

Background: MSmonitor is an interactive web-based program for self-management and integrated, multidisciplinary care in multiple sclerosis.

Methods: To assess the utilization and valuation by persons with multiple sclerosis, we held an online survey among those who had used the program for at least 1 year. We evaluated the utilization and meaningfulness of the program's elements, perceived use of data by neurologists and nurses, and appreciation of care, self-management, and satisfaction.

Results: Fifty-five persons completed the questionnaire (estimated response rate 40%). The Multiple Sclerosis Impact Profile (MSIP), Medication and Adherence Inventory, Activities Diary, and electronic consultation (e-consult) were used by 40%, 55%, 47%, and 44% of respondents and were considered meaningful by 83%, 81%, 54%, and 88%, respectively. During out-patient consultations, nurses reportedly used the MSmonitor data three to six times more frequently than neurologists. As to nursing care, more symptoms were dealt with (according to 54% of respondents), symptoms were better discussed (69%), and the overall quality of care had improved (60%) since the use of the program. As to neurological care, these figures were 24%, 31%, and 27%, respectively. In 46% of the respondents, the insight into their symptoms and disabilities had increased since the use of the program; the MSIP, Activities Diary, and e-consult had contributed most to this improvement. The overall satisfaction with the program was 3.5 out of 5, and 73% of the respondents would recommend the program to other persons with multiple sclerosis.

Conclusion: A survey among persons with multiple sclerosis using the MSmonitor program showed that the MSIP, Medication and Adherence Inventory, Activities Diary, and e-consult were frequently used and that the MSIP, Medication and Adherence Inventory, and e-consult were appreciated the most. Moreover, the quality of nursing care, but not so neurological care, had improved, which may relate to nurses making more frequent use of the MSmonitor data than neurologists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S93786DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4780403PMC
April 2016

The interactive web-based program MSmonitor for self-management and multidisciplinary care in multiple sclerosis: concept, content, and pilot results.

Patient Prefer Adherence 2015 11;9:1741-50. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Curavista bv, Geertruidenberg, the Netherlands.

Background: There is a growing need to offer persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) possibilities for self-management and to integrate multidisciplinary health data. In 2009-2014 we developed a patient-reported outcome based, interactive, web-based program (MSmonitor) for (self-)monitoring, self-management and integrated, multidisciplinary care in MS.

Methods: The notions underlying the MSmonitor concept and the program's elements are described. We analyze MSmonitor's role in the self-management of fatigue by retrospective comparison of fatigue and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) before and after usage of specific elements of MSmonitor, and by a correlative analysis between frequency of usage and fatigue change.

Results: After a step-wise development the program comprises six validated questionnaires: Multiple Sclerosis Impact Profile, Modified Fatigue Impact Scale-5 items (MFIS-5), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54 items, and the 8-item Leeds Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life (LMSQoL) questionnaires; two inventories: Medication and Adherence Inventory, Miction Inventory; two diaries: Activities Diary, Miction Diary; and two functionalities: e-consult and personal e-logbook. The program is now used in 17 hospitals by 581 PwMS and their neurologists, MS nurses, physical therapists, rehabilitative doctors, continence nurses, and family doctors. Those PwMS (N=105) who used the LMSQoL and MFIS-5 questionnaires at least twice in a period of up to 6 months, showed improved HRQoL (P<0.026). In the subgroup (N=56) who had also used the Activities Diary twice or more, the frequency of diary usage correlated modestly with the degree of fatigue improvement (r=0.292; P=0.028).

Conclusion: MSmonitor is an interactive web-based program for self-management and integrated care in PwMS. Pilot data suggest that the repeated use of the short MFIS-5 and LMSQoL questionnaires is associated with an increase in HRQoL, and that a repeated use of the Activities Diary might contribute to the self-management of fatigue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S93783DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685885PMC
December 2015

Defining reliable disability outcomes in multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2015 Nov 10;138(Pt 11):3287-98. Epub 2015 Sep 10.

1 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia 2 Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia 32 Department of Neurology, Box Hill Hospital, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Prevention of irreversible disability is currently the most important goal of disease modifying therapy for multiple sclerosis. The disability outcomes used in most clinical trials rely on progression of Expanded Disability Status Scale score confirmed over 3 or 6 months. However, sensitivity and stability of this metric has not been extensively evaluated. Using the global MSBase cohort study, we evaluated 48 criteria of disability progression, testing three definitions of baseline disability, two definitions of progression magnitude, two definitions of long-term irreversibility and four definitions of event confirmation period. The study outcomes comprised the rates of detected progression events per 10 years and the proportions of the recorded events persistent at later time points. To evaluate the ratio of progression frequency and stability for each criterion, we calculated the proportion of events persistent over the five subsequent years once progression was achieved. Finally, we evaluated the clinical and demographic determinants characterising progression events and, for those that regressed back to baseline, determinants of their subsequent regression. The study population consisted of 16 636 patients with the minimum of three recorded disability scores, totalling 112 584 patient-years. The progression rates varied between 0.41 and 1.14 events per 10 years, with the length of required confirmation interval as the most important determinant of the observed variance. The concordance among all tested progression criteria was only 17.3%. Regression of disability occurred in 11-34% of the progression events over the five subsequent years. The most important determinant of progression stability was the length of the confirmation period. For the most accurate set of the progression criteria, the proportions of 3-, 6-, 12- or 24-month confirmed events persistent over 5 years reached 70%, 74%, 80% and 89%, respectively. Regression post progression was more common in younger patients, relapsing-remitting disease course, and after a smaller change in disability, and was inflated by higher visit frequency. These results suggest that the disability outcomes based on 3-6-month confirmed disability progression overestimate the accumulation of permanent disability by up to 30%. This could lead to spurious results in short-term clinical trials, and the issue may be magnified further in cohorts consisting predominantly of younger patients and patients with relapsing-remitting disease. Extension of the required confirmation period increases the persistence of progression events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awv258DOI Listing
November 2015

Multiple sclerosis in Latin America: A different disease course severity? A collaborative study from the MSBase Registry.

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2015 Jan-Dec;1:2055217315600193. Epub 2015 Aug 17.

Multiple Sclerosis Center, Hospital Italiano, Argentina.

Limited data suggest that multiple sclerosis (MS) in Latin America (LA) could be less severe than in the rest of the world. The objective was to compare the course of MS between LA and other regions.

Methods: Centers from 18 countries with >20 cases enrolled in the MSBase Registry participated. Patients with MS with a disease duration of >1 year and <30 years at time of EDSS measurement were evaluated. The MS Severity Score (MSSS) was used as a measure of disease progression. Comparisons among regions (North America, Europe, Australia and LA), hemispheres and countries were performed.

Results: A total of 9610 patients were included. Patients were from: Europe, 6290 (65.6%); North America, 1609 (16.7%); Australia, 1119 (11.6%); and LA, 592 (6.1%). The mean MSSS in patients from LA was 4.47 ± 2.8, 4.53 ± 2.8 in North America, 4.51 ± 2.8 in Europe and 4.49 ± 2.7 in Australia. Mean MSSS in the northern hemisphere was 4.51 ± 1.6 compared to 4.48 ± 1.9 in the southern hemisphere. No differences were found for MSSS among hemispheres ( = 0.68), regions ( = 0.96) or countries ( = 0.50).

Conclusions: Our analyses did not discover any difference in mean MSSS among patients from different regions, hemispheres or countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2055217315600193DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408755PMC
August 2015

The effect of oral immunomodulatory therapy on treatment uptake and persistence in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2016 Apr 21;22(4):520-32. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Objective: We aimed to analyse the effect of the introduction of fingolimod, the first oral disease-modifying therapy, on treatment utilisation and persistence in an international cohort of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: MSBASIS, a prospective, observational sub-study of the MSBase registry, collects demographic, clinical and paraclinical data on patients followed from MS onset (n=4718). We conducted a multivariable conditional risk set survival analysis to identify predictors of treatment discontinuation, and to assess if the introduction of fingolimod has altered treatment persistence.

Results: A total of 2640 patients commenced immunomodulatory therapy. Following the introduction of fingolimod, patients were more likely to discontinue all other treatments (hazard ratio 1.64, p<0.001) while more patients switched to fingolimod than any other therapy (42.3% of switches). Patients switched to fingolimod due to convenience. Patients treated with fingolimod were less likely to discontinue treatment compared with other therapies (p<0.001). Female sex, country of residence, younger age, a high Expanded Disability Status Scale score and relapse activity were all independently associated with higher rates of treatment discontinuation.

Conclusion: Following the availability of fingolimod, patients were more likely to discontinue injectable treatments. Those who switched to fingolimod were more likely to do so for convenience. Persistence was improved on fingolimod compared to other medications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458515594041DOI Listing
April 2016

Male Sex Is Independently Associated with Faster Disability Accumulation in Relapse-Onset MS but Not in Primary Progressive MS.

PLoS One 2015 5;10(6):e0122686. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia.

Background: Multiple Sclerosis is more common in women than men and females have more relapses than men. In a large international cohort we have evaluated the effect of gender on disability accumulation and disease progression to determine if male MS patients have a worse clinical outcome than females.

Methods: Using the MSBase Registry, data from 15,826 MS patients from 25 countries was analysed. Changes in the severity of MS (EDSS) were compared between sexes using a repeated measures analysis in generalised linear mixed models. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to test for sex difference in the time to reach EDSS milestones 3 and 6 and the secondary progressive MS.

Results: In relapse onset MS patients (n = 14,453), males progressed significantly faster in their EDSS than females (0.133 vs 0.112 per year, P<0.001,). Females had a reduced risk of secondary progressive MS (HR (95% CI) = 0.77 (0.67 to 0.90) P = 0.001). In primary progressive MS (n = 1,373), there was a significant increase in EDSS over time in males and females (P<0.001) but there was no significant sex effect on the annualized rate of EDSS change.

Conclusion: Among registrants of MSBase, male relapse-onset patients accumulate disability faster than female patients. In contrast, the rate of disability accumulation between male and female patients with primary progressive MS is similar.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122686PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4457630PMC
March 2016

Predictors of disability worsening in clinically isolated syndrome.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2015 May 27;2(5):479-91. Epub 2015 Mar 27.

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

Objective: To assess demographic, clinical, magnetic resonance imaging, and treatment exposure predictors of time to 3 or 12-month confirmed disability worsening in clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and early multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: We utilized the MSBase Incident Study (MSBasis), a prospective cohort study of outcome after CIS. Predictors of time to first 3 and 12-month confirmed expanded disability status scale worsening were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: About 1989 patients were analyzed, the largest seen-from-onset cohort reported to-date. A total of 391 patients had a first 3-month confirmed disability worsening event, of which 307 were sustained for 12 months. Older age at CIS onset (adjusted hazard ratio: aHR 1.17, 95% 1.06, 1.30), pyramidal (aHR 1.45, 95% CI 1.13, 1.89) and ambulation (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.09, 2.34) system dysfunction, annualized relapse rate (aHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.18, 1.22), and lower proportion of observation time on treatment were associated with 3-month confirmed worsening. Predictors of time to 12-month sustained worsening included pyramidal system dysfunction (Hazard ratio: aHR 1.38, 95% CI 1.05, 1.83), and older age at CIS onset (aHR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04, 1.31). Greater proportion of follow-up time exposed to treatment was associated with greater reductions in the rate of worsening.

Interpretation: This study provides class IV evidence for a strong protective effect of disease-modifying treatment to reduce disability worsening events in patients with CIS and early MS, and confirms age and pyramidal dysfunction at onset as risk factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.187DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4435703PMC
May 2015

Comparative efficacy of switching to natalizumab in active multiple sclerosis.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2015 Apr 27;2(4):373-87. Epub 2015 Feb 27.

Department of Medicine and Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne Melbourne, Australia ; Department of Neurology, Eastern Health, Monash University Box Hill, Australia.

Objective: To compare treatment efficacy and persistence in patients who switched to natalizumab versus those who switched between glatiramer acetate (GA) and interferon-beta (IFNβ) after an on-treatment relapse on IFNβ or GA using propensity score matched real-world datasets.

Methods: Patients included were registered in MSBase or the TYSABRI Observational Program (TOP), had relapsed on IFNβ or GA within 12 months prior to switching to another therapy, and had initiated natalizumab or IFNβ/GA treatment ≤6 months after discontinuing prior therapy. Covariates were balanced across post switch treatment groups by propensity score matching at treatment initiation. Relapse, persistence, and disability measures were compared between matched treatment arms in the total population (n = 869/group) and in subgroups defined by prior treatment history (IFNβ only [n = 578/group], GA only [n = 165/group], or both IFNβ and GA [n = 176/group]).

Results: Compared to switching between IFNβ and GA, switching to natalizumab reduced annualized relapse rate in year one by 65-75%, the risk of first relapse by 53-82% (mean follow-up 1.7-2.2 years) and treatment discontinuation events by 48-65% (all P ≤ 0.001). In the total population, switching to natalizumab reduced the risk of confirmed disability progression by 26% (P = 0.036) and decreased the total disability burden by 1.54 EDSS-years (P < 0.0001) over the first 24 months post switch.

Interpretation: Using large, real-world, propensity-matched datasets we demonstrate that after a relapse on IFNβ or GA, switching to natalizumab (rather than between IFNβ and GA) led to superior outcomes for patients in all measures assessed. Results were consistent regardless of the prior treatment identity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.180DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402083PMC
April 2015

CT within 6 hours of headache onset to rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage in nonacademic hospitals.

Neurology 2015 May 10;84(19):1927-32. Epub 2015 Apr 10.

From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus (K.M.B., G.J.E.R., M.D.I.V.), and Department of Radiology (J. Hendrikse), University Medical Center Utrecht; Department of Radiology (C.B.L.M.M.), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam; Department of Neurology (M.B., C.C.T.), St. Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg; Department of Neurology (Y.Y.W., J. Hofmeijer), Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem; Department of Neurology (J.E., B.K.), Sint Lucas Andreas Hospital, Amsterdam; Department of Neurology (T.H.C.M.L.S.), Atrium Medical Center, Heerlen; Department of Neurology (S.t.H., F.V.), Groene Hart Hospital, Gouda; Department of Neurology (L.H., D.M.O.P.), Diakonessenhuis, Utrecht; Department of Neurology (V.I.H.K.), Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Amsterdam; Department of Neurology (P.J.B.), Medisch Spectrum Twente, Enschede; Department of Neurology (M.J.M.R.), Amphia Hospital, Breda; Department of Neurology (W.J.S.), St. Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein; and Department of Neurology (N.D.K.), Slotervaart Hospital, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. N.D.K. is currently affiliated with the Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

Objective: To investigate whether staff radiologists working in nonacademic hospitals can adequately rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) on head CT <6 hours after headache onset.

Methods: In a multicenter, retrospective study, we studied a consecutive series of patients presenting with acute headache to 11 nonacademic hospitals. Inclusion criteria were (1) normal level of consciousness without focal deficits, (2) head CT <6 hours after headache onset and reported negative for the presence of SAH by a staff radiologist, and (3) subsequent CSF spectrophotometry. Two neuroradiologists and one stroke neurologist from 2 academic tertiary care centers independently reviewed admission CTs of patients with CSF results that were considered positive for presence of bilirubin according to local criteria. We investigated the negative predictive value for detection of SAH by staff radiologists in nonacademic hospitals on head CT in patients scanned <6 hours after onset of acute headache.

Results: Of 760 included patients, CSF analysis was considered positive for bilirubin in 52 patients (7%). Independent review of these patients' CTs identified one patient (1/52; 2%) with a perimesencephalic nonaneurysmal SAH. Negative predictive value for detection of subarachnoid blood by staff radiologists working in a nonacademic hospital was 99.9% (95% confidence interval 99.3%-100.0%).

Conclusions: Our results support a change of practice wherein a lumbar puncture can be withheld in patients with a head CT scan performed <6 hours after headache onset and reported negative for the presence of SAH by a staff radiologist in the described nonacademic setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000001562DOI Listing
May 2015

Comparison of switch to fingolimod or interferon beta/glatiramer acetate in active multiple sclerosis.

JAMA Neurol 2015 Apr;72(4):405-13

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia2Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Importance: After multiple sclerosis (MS) relapse while a patient is receiving an injectable disease-modifying drug, many physicians advocate therapy switch, but the relative effectiveness of different switch decisions is often uncertain.

Objective: To compare the effect of the oral immunomodulator fingolimod with that of all injectable immunomodulators (interferons or glatiramer acetate) on relapse rate, disability, and treatment persistence in patients with active MS.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Matched retrospective analysis of data collected prospectively from MSBase, an international, observational cohort study. The MSBase cohort represents a population of patients with MS monitored at large MS centers. The analyzed data were collected between July 1996 and April 2014. Participants included patients with relapsing-remitting MS who were switching therapy to fingolimod or injectable immunomodulators up to 12 months after on-treatment clinical disease activity (relapse or progression of disability), matched on demographic and clinical variables. Median follow-up duration was 13.1 months (range, 3-80). Indication and attrition bias were controlled with propensity score matching and pairwise censoring, respectively. Head-to-head analyses of relapse and disability outcomes used paired, weighted, negative binomial models or frailty proportional hazards models adjusted for magnetic resonance imaging variables. Sensitivity analyses were conducted.

Exposures: Patients had received fingolimod, interferon beta, or glatiramer acetate for a minimum of 3 months following a switch of immunomodulatory therapy.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Annualized relapse rate and proportion of relapse-free patients, as well as the proportion of patients without sustained disability progression.

Results: Overall, 379 patients in the injectable group were matched to 148 patients in the fingolimod group. The fingolimod group had a lower mean annualized relapse rate (0.31 vs 0.42; 95% CI, 0.02-0.19; P=.009), lower hazard of first on-treatment relapse (hazard ratio [HR], 0.74; 95% CI, 0.56-0.98; P=.04), lower hazard of disability progression (HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.31-0.91; P=.02), higher rate of disability regression (HR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2-3.3; P=.005), and lower hazard of treatment discontinuation (HR, 0.55; P=.04) compared with the injectable group.

Conclusions And Relevance: Switching from injectable immunomodulators to fingolimod is associated with fewer relapses, more favorable disability outcomes, and greater treatment persistence compared with switching to another injectable preparation following on-treatment activity of MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.4147DOI Listing
April 2015

Switch to natalizumab versus fingolimod in active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Ann Neurol 2015 Mar 17;77(3):425-35. Epub 2015 Jan 17.

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

Objective: In patients suffering multiple sclerosis activity despite treatment with interferon β or glatiramer acetate, clinicians often switch therapy to either natalizumab or fingolimod. However, no studies have directly compared the outcomes of switching to either of these agents.

Methods: Using MSBase, a large international, observational, prospectively acquired cohort study, we identified patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis experiencing relapses or disability progression within the 6 months immediately preceding switch to either natalizumab or fingolimod. Quasi-randomization with propensity score-based matching was used to select subpopulations with comparable baseline characteristics. Relapse and disability outcomes were compared in paired, pairwise-censored analyses.

Results: Of the 792 included patients, 578 patients were matched (natalizumab, n = 407; fingolimod, n = 171). Mean on-study follow-up was 12 months. The annualized relapse rates decreased from 1.5 to 0.2 on natalizumab and from 1.3 to 0.4 on fingolimod, with 50% relative postswitch difference in relapse hazard (p = 0.002). A 2.8 times higher rate of sustained disability regression was observed after the switch to natalizumab in comparison to fingolimod (p < 0.001). No difference in the rate of sustained disability progression events was observed between the groups. The change in overall disability burden (quantified as area under the disability-time curve) differed between natalizumab and fingolimod (-0.12 vs 0.04 per year, respectively, p < 0.001).

Interpretation: This study suggests that in active multiple sclerosis during treatment with injectable disease-modifying therapies, switching to natalizumab is more effective than switching to fingolimod in reducing relapse rate and short-term disability burden.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24339DOI Listing
March 2015

Comparative effectiveness of glatiramer acetate and interferon beta formulations in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2015 Aug 5;21(9):1159-71. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and Department of Neurology, Box Hill Hospital, Monash University, Box Hill, Australia.

Background: The results of head-to-head comparisons of injectable immunomodulators (interferon β, glatiramer acetate) have been inconclusive and a comprehensive analysis of their effectiveness is needed.

Objective: We aimed to compare, in a real-world setting, relapse and disability outcomes among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) treated with injectable immunomodulators.

Methods: Pairwise analysis of the international MSBase registry data was conducted using propensity-score matching. The four injectable immunomodulators were compared in six head-to-head analyses of relapse and disability outcomes using paired mixed models or frailty proportional hazards models adjusted for magnetic resonance imaging variables. Sensitivity and power analyses were conducted.

Results: Of the 3326 included patients, 345-1199 patients per therapy were matched (median pairwise-censored follow-up was 3.7 years). Propensity matching eliminated >95% of the identified indication bias. Slightly lower relapse incidence was found among patients treated with glatiramer acetate or subcutaneous interferon β-1a relative to intramuscular interferon β-1a and interferon β-1b (p≤0.001). No differences in 12-month confirmed progression of disability were observed.

Conclusion: Small but statistically significant differences in relapse outcomes exist among the injectable immunomodulators. MSBase is sufficiently powered to identify these differences and reflects practice in tertiary MS centres. While the present study controlled indication, selection and attrition bias, centre-dependent variance in data quality was likely.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458514559865DOI Listing
August 2015

Seasonal variation of relapse rate in multiple sclerosis is latitude dependent.

Ann Neurol 2014 Dec 20;76(6):880-90. Epub 2014 Oct 20.

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

Objective: Previous studies assessing seasonal variation of relapse onset in multiple sclerosis have had conflicting results. Small relapse numbers, differing diagnostic criteria, and single region studies limit the generalizability of prior results. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a temporal variation in onset of relapses in both hemispheres and to determine whether seasonal peak relapse probability varies with latitude.

Methods: The international MSBase Registry was utilized to analyze seasonal relapse onset distribution by hemisphere and latitudinal location. All analyses were weighted for the patient number contributed by each center. A sine regression model was used to model relapse onset and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) seasonality. Linear regression was used to investigate associations of latitude and lag between UVR trough and subsequent relapse peak.

Results: A total of 32,762 relapses from 9,811 patients across 30 countries were analyzed. Relapse onset followed an annual cyclical sinusoidal pattern with peaks in early spring and troughs in autumn in both hemispheres. Every 10° of latitude away from the equator was associated with a mean decrease in UVR trough to subsequent relapse peak lag of 28.5 days (95% confidence interval = 3.29-53.71, p = 0.028).

Interpretation: We demonstrate for the first time that there is a latitude-dependent relationship between seasonal UVR trough and relapse onset probability peak independent of location-specific UVR levels, with more distal latitude associated with shorter gaps. We confirm prior meta-analyses showing a strong seasonal relapse onset probability variation in the northern hemisphere, and extend this observation to the southern hemisphere.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24287DOI Listing
December 2014

Risk of relapse phenotype recurrence in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2014 Oct 28;20(11):1511-22. Epub 2014 Apr 28.

Royal Melbourne Hospital, AustraliaUniversity of Melbourne, Australia.

Objectives: The aim was to analyse risk of relapse phenotype recurrence in multiple sclerosis and to characterise the effect of demographic and clinical features on this phenotype.

Methods: Information about relapses was collected using MSBase, an international observational registry. Associations between relapse phenotypes and history of similar relapses or patient characteristics were tested with multivariable logistic regression models. Tendency of relapse phenotypes to recur sequentially was assessed with principal component analysis.

Results: Among 14,969 eligible patients (89,949 patient-years), 49,279 phenotypically characterised relapses were recorded. Visual and brainstem relapses occurred more frequently in early disease and in younger patients. Sensory relapses were more frequent in early or non-progressive disease. Pyramidal, sphincter and cerebellar relapses were more common in older patients and in progressive disease. Women presented more often with sensory or visual symptoms. Men were more prone to pyramidal, brainstem and cerebellar relapses. Importantly, relapse phenotype was predicted by the phenotypes of previous relapses. (OR = 1.8-5, p = 10(-14)). Sensory, visual and brainstem relapses showed better recovery than other relapse phenotypes. Relapse severity increased and the ability to recover decreased with age or more advanced disease.

Conclusion: Relapse phenotype was associated with demographic and clinical characteristics, with phenotypic recurrence significantly more common than expected by chance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458514528762DOI Listing
October 2014

Fingolimod after natalizumab and the risk of short-term relapse.

Neurology 2014 Apr 7;82(14):1204-11. Epub 2014 Mar 7.

From the Department of Medicine (V.G.J., T.K., H.B.), Melbourne Brain Centre (RMH), The University of Melbourne; Department of Neurology (V.G.J., V.L., T.K., H.B.), Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G.I.), Seville, Spain; Liverpool Hospital (S.H.), New South Wales, Australia; Amiri Hospital (R.A.), Kuwait City, Kuwait; John Hunter Hospital (J.L.-S.), Newcastle, Australia; MS Center (A.L.), Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, University "G. d'Annunzio," Chieti, Italy; Hôpital Notre Dame (P.D., M.G.), Montreal, Canada; Brain and Mind Research Institute (M.B.), Sydney, Australia; Neuro Rive-Sud (F.G.), Hôpital Charles LeMoyne, Quebec, Canada; Department of Basic Medical Sciences (M.T.), Neuroscience and Sense Organs, University of Bari, Italy; Flinders University and Medical Centre (M.S.), Adelaide, Australia; Ospedale di Macerata (G.G.), Italy; Geelong Hospital (C.S.), Australia; Karadeniz Technical University (C.B.), Trabzon, Turkey; AORN San Giuseppe Moscati (D.L.A.S.), Avellino, Italy; Groene Hart Ziekenhuis (F.V.), Gouda, the Netherlands; Department of Neurology (J.H., H.B.), Eastern Health Victoria; Monash University (J.H., H.B.), Melbourne; and Melbourne EpiCentre (D.L.), The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, Australia.

Objective: To determine early risk of relapse after switch from natalizumab to fingolimod; to compare the switch experience to that in patients switching from interferon-β/glatiramer acetate (IFN-β/GA) and those previously treatment naive; and to determine predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod.

Methods: Data were obtained from the MSBase Registry. Relapse rates (RRs) for each patient group were compared using adjusted negative binomial regression. Survival analyses coupled with adjusted Cox regression were used to model predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod.

Results: A total of 536 patients (natalizumab-fingolimod [n = 89]; IFN-β/GA-fingolimod [n = 350]; naive-fingolimod [n = 97]) were followed up for a median 10 months. In the natalizumab-fingolimod group, there was a small increase in RR on fingolimod (annualized RR [ARR] 0.38) relative to natalizumab (ARR 0.26; p = 0.002). RRs were generally low across all patient groups in the first 9 months on fingolimod (RR 0.001-0.13). However, 30% of patients with disease activity on natalizumab relapsed within the first 6 months on fingolimod. Independent predictors of time to first relapse on fingolimod were the number of relapses in the prior 6 months (hazard ratio [HR] 1.59 per relapse; p = 0.002) and a gap in treatment of 2-4 months compared to no gap (HR 2.10; p = 0.041).

Conclusions: RRs after switch to fingolimod were low in all patient groups. The strongest predictor of relapse on fingolimod was prior relapse activity. Based on our data, we recommend a maximum 2-month treatment gap for switches to fingolimod to decrease the hazard of relapse.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that RRs are not higher in patients with multiple sclerosis switching to fingolimod from natalizumab compared to those patients switching to fingolimod from other therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000000283DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001200PMC
April 2014