Publications by authors named "Gerardo Iuliano"

35 Publications

Determinants of therapeutic lag in multiple sclerosis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mult Scler 2020 Jun 15:1352458520926955. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Early cerebellar presentation is associated with unfavourable outcomes, while early brainstem presentation is associated with favourable prognosis. These presentations may be used as MS prognostic markers and guide therapeutic approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520926955DOI Listing
June 2020

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

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

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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000004330DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589791PMC
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

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

Discontinuing disease-modifying therapy in MS after a prolonged relapse-free period: a propensity score-matched study.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2016 10 13;87(10):1133-7. Epub 2016 Jun 13.

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia Department of Medicine (RMH), The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Background: Discontinuation of injectable disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for multiple sclerosis (MS) after a long period of relapse freedom is frequently considered, but data on post-cessation disease course are lacking.

Objectives: (1) To compare time to first relapse and disability progression among 'DMT stoppers' and propensity-score matched 'DMT stayers' in the MSBase Registry; (2) To identify predictors of time to first relapse and disability progression in DMT stoppers.

Methods: Inclusion criteria for DMT stoppers were: age ≥18 years; no relapses for ≥5 years at DMT discontinuation; follow-up for ≥3 years after stopping DMT; not restarting DMT for ≥3 months after discontinuation. DMT stayers were required to have no relapses for ≥5 years at baseline, and were propensity-score matched to stoppers for age, sex, disability (Expanded Disability Status Score), disease duration and time on treatment. Relapse and disability progression events in matched stoppers and stayers were compared using a marginal Cox model. Predictors of first relapse and disability progression among DMT stoppers were investigated using a Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: Time to first relapse among 485 DMT stoppers and 854 stayers was similar (adjusted HR, aHR=1.07, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.37; p=0.584), while time to confirmed disability progression was significantly shorter among DMT stoppers than stayers (aHR=1.47, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.84, p=0.001). The difference in hazards of progression was due mainly to patients who had not experienced disability progression in the prebaseline treatment period.

Conclusions: Patients with MS who discontinued injectable DMT after a long period of relapse freedom had a similar relapse rate as propensity score-matched patients who continued on DMT, but higher hazard for disability progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2016-313760DOI Listing
October 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

Fingolimod versus interferon beta/glatiramer acetate after natalizumab suspension in multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2015 Nov 11;138(Pt 11):3275-86. Epub 2015 Sep 11.

25 Department of Neurology, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Via Olgettina, 48 20132, Milan, Italy.

The comparative effectiveness of fingolimod versus interferon beta/glatiramer acetate was assessed in a multicentre, observational, prospectively acquired cohort study including 613 patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis discontinuing natalizumab in the Italian iMedWeb registry. First, after natalizumab suspension, the relapse risk during the untreated wash-out period and during the course of switch therapies was estimated through Poisson regression analyses in separated models. During the wash-out period an increased risk of relapses was found in patients with a higher number of relapses before natalizumab treatment (incidence rate ratio = 1.31, P = 0.0014) and in patients discontinuing natalizumab due to lack of efficacy (incidence rate ratio = 2.33, P = 0.0288), patient's choice (incidence rate ratio = 2.18, P = 0.0064) and adverse events (incidence rate ratio = 2.09, P = 0.0084). The strongest independent factors influencing the relapse risk after the start of switch therapies were a wash-out duration longer than 3 months (incidence rate ratio = 1.78, P < 0.0001), the number of relapses experienced during and before natalizumab treatment (incidence rate ratio = 1.61, P < 0.0001; incidence rate ratio = 1.13, P = 0.0118, respectively) and the presence of comorbidities (incidence rate ratio = 1.4, P = 0.0097). Switching to fingolimod was associated with a 64% reduction of the adjusted-risk for relapse in comparison with switching to interferon beta/glatiramer acetate (incidence rate ratio = 0.36, P < 0.0001). Secondly, patients who switched to fingolimod or to interferon beta/glatiramer acetate were propensity score-matched on a 1-to-1 basis at the switching date. In the propensity score-matched sample a Poisson model showed a significant lower incidence of relapses in patients treated with fingolimod in comparison with those treated with interferon beta/glatiramer acetate (incidence rate ratio = 0.52, P = 0.0003) during a 12-month follow-up. The cumulative probability of a first relapse after the treatment switch was significantly lower in patients receiving fingolimod than in those receiving interferon beta/glatiramer acetate (P = 0.028). The robustness of this result was also confirmed by sensitivity analyses in subgroups with different wash-out durations (less or more than 3 months). Time to 3-month confirmed disability progression was not significantly different between the two groups (Hazard ratio = 0.58; P = 0.1931). Our results indicate a superiority of fingolimod in comparison to interferon beta/glatiramer acetate in controlling disease reactivation after natalizumab discontinuation in the real life setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awv260DOI Listing
November 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

Longitudinal assessment of immuno-metabolic parameters in multiple sclerosis patients during treatment with glatiramer acetate.

Metabolism 2015 Sep 8;64(9):1112-21. Epub 2015 May 8.

Dipartimento di Medicina e Chirurgia, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università di Salerno, Baronissi Campus, Baronissi, Salerno, Italy; IRCCS MultiMedica, Milano, Italy. Electronic address:

Objective: We investigated the effect of glatiramer acetate (GA) on the modulation of immune cell subpopulations and serum levels of multiple immune/metabolic markers in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) to understand whether the treatment with GA could induce a specific change in the immunometabolic asset of patients with RRMS.

Material And Methods: We performed an extensive peripheral blood immunophenotyping and measured serum levels of several parameters involved in the pathogenesis of RRMS and also relevant in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome and obesity such as leptin, soluble leptin-receptor (sLep-R), myeloperoxidase (MPO), soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40-L), soluble tumor necrosis factor-receptor (sTNF-R), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), soluble Inter-Cellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and osteoprotegerin (OPG), in 20 naïve-to-treatment RRMS patients and 20 healthy controls. We repeated these analyses over time at 6 and 12 months after starting GA treatment.

Results: Our analysis showed that naïve-to-treatment RRMS patients had a lower number of CD16(+)CD56(+) NK cells, CD19(+) B cells, CD4(+) T cells co-expressing the MHC class II activation marker HLA-DR (CD4(+)DR(+)) and naïve CD4(+)CD45RA(+) T cells in basal conditions. GA treatment induced a specific and significant decrease of circulating CD19(+) B cells. Naïve-to-treatment RRMS patients also showed a significantly higher number of CD4(+) T cells with a memory phenotype (CD4(+)CD45RO(+)) whose peripheral frequency was not affected by GA treatment. These changes over time associated with a higher serum concentration of leptin and lower levels of MPO. GA treatment also reduced significantly the circulating levels of sCD40-L and sTNF-R overtime.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that the clinical outcome of GA treatment is associated with changes in immune cell subpopulations and modulation of specific immunometabolic markers. These data add substantial evidence of the immune modulating effect of GA during RRMS and could be of relevance in understanding the pathogenesis of disease and its follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2015.05.001DOI Listing
September 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

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

Sex as a determinant of relapse incidence and progressive course of multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2013 Dec 18;136(Pt 12):3609-17. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

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

The aim of this work was to evaluate sex differences in the incidence of multiple sclerosis relapses; assess the relationship between sex and primary progressive disease course; and compare effects of age and disease duration on relapse incidence. Annualized relapse rates were calculated using the MSBase registry. Patients with incomplete data or <1 year of follow-up were excluded. Patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis were only included in the sex ratio analysis. Relapse incidences over 40 years of multiple sclerosis or 70 years of age were compared between females and males with Andersen-Gill and Tweedie models. Female-to-male ratios stratified by annual relapse count were evaluated across disease duration and patient age and compared between relapse-onset and primary progressive multiple sclerosis. The study cohort consisted of 11 570 eligible patients with relapse-onset and 881 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Among the relapse-onset patients (82 552 patient-years), 48,362 relapses were recorded. Relapse frequency was 17.7% higher in females compared with males. Within the initial 5 years, the female-to-male ratio increased from 2.3:1 to 3.3:1 in patients with 0 versus ≥4 relapses per year, respectively. The magnitude of this sex effect increased at longer disease duration and older age (P < 10(-12)). However, the female-to-male ratio in patients with relapse-onset multiple sclerosis and zero relapses in any given year was double that of the patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Patient age was a more important determinant of decline in relapse incidence than disease duration (P < 10(-12)). Females are predisposed to higher relapse activity than males. However, this difference does not explain the markedly lower female-to-male sex ratio in primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Decline in relapse activity over time is more closely related to patient age than disease duration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awt281DOI Listing
December 2013

Predictors and dynamics of postpartum relapses in women with multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2014 May 9;20(6):739-46. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

Department of Neurology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK.

Background: Several studies have shown that pregnancy reduces multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses, which increase in the early postpartum period. Postpartum relapse risk has been predicted by pre-pregnancy disease activity in some studies.

Objective: To re-examine effect of pregnancy on relapses using the large international MSBase Registry, examining predictors of early postpartum relapse.

Methods: An observational case-control study was performed including pregnancies post-MS onset. Annualised relapse rate (ARR) and median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores were compared for the 24 months pre-conception, pregnancy and 24 months postpartum periods. Clustered logistic regression was used to investigate predictors of early postpartum relapses.

Results: The study included 893 pregnancies in 674 females with MS. ARR (standard error) pre-pregnancy was 0.32 (0.02), which fell to 0.13 (0.03) in the third trimester and rose to 0.61 (0.06) in the first three months postpartum. Median EDSS remained unchanged. Pre-conception ARR and disease-modifying treatment (DMT) predicted early postpartum relapse in a multivariable model.

Conclusion: Results confirm a favourable effect on relapses as pregnancy proceeds, and an early postpartum peak. Pre-conception DMT exposure and low ARR were independently protective against postpartum relapse. This novel finding could provide clinicians with a strategy to minimise postpartum relapse risk in women with MS planning pregnancy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458513507816DOI Listing
May 2014

Persistence on therapy and propensity matched outcome comparison of two subcutaneous interferon beta 1a dosages for multiple sclerosis.

PLoS One 2013 21;8(5):e63480. Epub 2013 May 21.

Departments of Medicine and Neurology, University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

Objectives: To compare treatment persistence between two dosages of interferon β-1a in a large observational multiple sclerosis registry and assess disease outcomes of first line MS treatment at these dosages using propensity scoring to adjust for baseline imbalance in disease characteristics.

Methods: Treatment discontinuations were evaluated in all patients within the MSBase registry who commenced interferon β-1a SC thrice weekly (n = 4678). Furthermore, we assessed 2-year clinical outcomes in 1220 patients treated with interferon β-1a in either dosage (22 µg or 44 µg) as their first disease modifying agent, matched on propensity score calculated from pre-treatment demographic and clinical variables. A subgroup analysis was performed on 456 matched patients who also had baseline MRI variables recorded.

Results: Overall, 4054 treatment discontinuations were recorded in 3059 patients. The patients receiving the lower interferon dosage were more likely to discontinue treatment than those with the higher dosage (25% vs. 20% annual probability of discontinuation, respectively). This was seen in discontinuations with reasons recorded as "lack of efficacy" (3.3% vs. 1.7%), "scheduled stop" (2.2% vs. 1.3%) or without the reason recorded (16.7% vs. 13.3% annual discontinuation rate, 22 µg vs. 44 µg dosage, respectively). Propensity score was determined by treating centre and disability (score without MRI parameters) or centre, sex and number of contrast-enhancing lesions (score including MRI parameters). No differences in clinical outcomes at two years (relapse rate, time relapse-free and disability) were observed between the matched patients treated with either of the interferon dosages.

Conclusions: Treatment discontinuations were more common in interferon β-1a 22 µg SC thrice weekly. However, 2-year clinical outcomes did not differ between patients receiving the different dosages, thus replicating in a registry dataset derived from "real-world" database the results of the pivotal randomised trial. Propensity score matching effectively minimised baseline covariate imbalance between two directly compared sub-populations from a large observational registry.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0063480PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660604PMC
December 2013

Historical changes of seasonal differences in the frequency of multiple sclerosis clinical attacks: a multicenter study.

J Neurol 2013 May 21;260(5):1258-62. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Department of Neurosciences, U.O.S.D. Malattie Demielinizzanti, A.O.U. Ospedali Riuniti di Salerno, piazza P.Paoli no 6, 84123 Salerno, Italy.

Previous papers show discordant patterns of monthly and seasonal differences in the frequency of multiple sclerosis relapses. Attacks are more often reported in spring and summer, but there are many variations, mainly as to summer peaks. This paper, an MSBase collaboration substudy, reports multiple series of relapses from 1980 to 2010, comparing ultradecennal trends of seasonal frequency of attacks in different countries. The MSBase international database was searched for relapses in series recording patient histories from 1980 up to 2010. The number of relapses by month was stratified by decade (1981-1990, 1991-2000, 2001-2010). Positive spring versus summer peaks were compared by odds ratios; different series were compared by weighted odds ratio (Peto OR). Decade comparison of the 1990s versus 2000s shows inversion of spring-summer peak (2000s = March; 1990s = July), significant in the whole group (Peto odds ratio = 1.31, CI = 1.10-1.56, p = 0.003) and in Salerno series (OR = 1.97, CI = 1.14-1.40). The global significance persisted also excluding Salerno series (Peto odds ratio = 1.25, CI = 1.04-1.50, p = 0.002). Multicentric data confirm a summer peak of relapses in the 1991-2000 decade, significantly different from the spring peak of 2001-2010. Seasonal frequency of relapses shows long-term variations, so that other factors such as viral epidemics might have more relevance than ultraviolet exposure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-012-6785-yDOI Listing
May 2013