Publications by authors named "Helmut Butzkueven"

201 Publications

Long-term outcomes in patients presenting with optic neuritis: Analyses of the MSBase registry.

J Neurol Sci 2021 Sep 3;430:118067. Epub 2021 Sep 3.

Department of Population Health, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Short-term outcomes of optic neuritis (ON) have been well characterized. Limited data exists on longer-term visual outcomes in patients who present with ON. The large MSBase registry allows for characterization of long-term visual outcomes after ON.

Methods: Via the MSBase Registry, data on patients from 41 centers was collected during routine clinical and research visits. Physical and visual disability were measured using the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and the visual function score (VFS). Inclusion criteria for this analysis included age ≥ 18 years, clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), ON-onset, baseline visit within 6 months of onset, and at least one follow-up visit. Survival analysis was used to evaluate the association of disease-modifying treatment with time to conversion to clinically definite MS or sustained EDSS/VFS progression.

Results: Data from 60,933 patients were obtained from the MSBase registry in July 2019. Of these, 1317 patients met inclusion criteria; 935 were treated at some point in disease course, while 382 were never treated. At baseline, mean age was 32.3 ± 8.8 years, 74% were female, median EDSS was 2 (IQR 1-2), and median VFS was 1 (IQR 0-2). Median follow-up time was 5.2 years (IQR 2.4-9.3). Treatment was associated with reduced risk and delayed conversion to clinically definite MS (HR = 0.70, p < 0.001), sustained EDSS progression (HR = 0.46, p < 0.0001) and sustained VFS (HR = 0.41, p < 0.001) progression.

Conclusions: In the MSBase cohort, treatment after ON was associated with better visual and neurological outcomes compared to no treatment. These results support early treatment for patients presenting with ON as the first manifestation of MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2021.118067DOI Listing
September 2021

Natalizumab Versus Fingolimod in Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: A Subgroup Analysis From Three International Cohorts.

CNS Drugs 2021 Sep 18. Epub 2021 Sep 18.

Neurology Unit, Garibaldi Hospital, Catania, Italy.

Introduction: Natalizumab has proved to be more effective than fingolimod in reducing disease activity in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Whether this association is universal for all patient groups remains to be determined.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the relative effectiveness of natalizumab and fingolimod in RRMS subgroups defined by the baseline demographic and clinical characteristics of interest.

Methods: Patients with RRMS who were given natalizumab or fingolimod were identified in a merged cohort from three international registries. Efficacy outcomes were compared across subgroups based on patients' sex, age, disease duration, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, and disease and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) activity 12 months prior to treatment initiation. Study endpoints were number of relapses (analyzed with weighted negative binomial generalized linear model) and 6-month confirmed disability worsening and improvement events (weighted Cox proportional hazards model), recorded during study therapy. Each patient was weighted using inverse probability of treatment weighting based on propensity score.

Results: A total of 5148 patients (natalizumab 1989; fingolimod 3159) were included, with a mean ± standard deviation age at baseline of 38 ± 10 years, and the majority (72%) were women. The median on-treatment follow-up was 25 (quartiles 15-41) months. Natalizumab was associated with fewer relapses than fingolimod (incidence rate ratio [IRR]; 95% confidence interval [CI]) in women (0.76; 0.65-0.88); in those aged ≤ 38 years (0.64; 0.54-0.76); in those with disease duration ≤ 7 years (0.63; 0.53-0.76); in those with EDSS score < 4 (0.75; 0.64-0.88), < 6 (0.80; 0.70-0.91), and ≥ 6 (0.52; 0.31-0.86); and in patients with pre-baseline relapses (0.74; 0.64-0.86). A higher probability of confirmed disability improvement on natalizumab versus fingolimod (hazard ratio [HR]; 95% CI) was observed among women (1.36; 1.10-1.66); those aged > 38 years (1.34; 1.04-1.73); those with disease duration > 7 years (1.33; 1.01-1.74); those with EDSS score < 6 (1.21; 1.01-1.46) and ≥ 6 (1.93; 1.11-3.34); and patients with no new MRI lesion (1.73; 1.19-2.51).

Conclusions: Overall, in women, younger patients, those with shorter disease durations, and patients with pre-treatment relapses, natalizumab was associated with a lower frequency of multiple sclerosis relapses than fingolimod. It was also associated with an increased chance of recovery from disability among most patients, particularly women and those with no recent MRI activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40263-021-00860-7DOI Listing
September 2021

Brain atrophy and lesion burden are associated with disability progression in a multiple sclerosis real-world dataset using only T2-FLAIR: The NeuroSTREAM MSBase study.

Neuroimage Clin 2021 Aug 24;32:102802. Epub 2021 Aug 24.

Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, Department of Neurology, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, NY, USA; Center for Biomedical Imaging, Clinical Translational Science Institute, USA; University at Buffalo, NY, USA.

Background: Methodological challenges limit the use of brain atrophy and lesion burden measures in the follow-up of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients on clinical routine datasets.

Objective: To determine the feasibility of T2-FLAIR-only measures of lateral ventricular volume (LVV) and salient central lesion volume (SCLV), as markers of disability progression (DP) in MS.

Methods: A total of 3,228 MS patients from 9 MSBase centers in 5 countries were enrolled. Of those, 2,875 (218 with clinically isolated syndrome, 2,231 with relapsing-remitting and 426 with progressive disease subtype) fulfilled inclusion and exclusion criteria. Patients were scanned on either 1.5 T or 3 T MRI scanners, and 5,750 brain scans were collected at index and on average after 42.3 months at post-index. Demographic and clinical data were collected from the MSBase registry. LVV and SCLV were measured on clinical routine T2-FLAIR images.

Results: Longitudinal LVV and SCLV analyses were successful in 96% of the scans. 57% of patients had scanner-related changes over the follow-up. After correcting for age, sex, disease duration, disability, disease-modifying therapy and LVV at index, and follow-up time, MS patients with DP (n = 671) had significantly greater absolute LVV change compared to stable (n = 1,501) or disability improved (DI, n = 248) MS patients (2.0 mL vs. 1.4 mL vs. 1.1 mL, respectively, ANCOVA p < 0.001, post-hoc pair-wise DP vs. Stable p = 0.003; and DP vs. DI, p = 0.002). Similar ANCOVA model was also significant for SCLV (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: LVV-based atrophy and SCLV-based lesion outcomes are feasible on clinically acquired T2-FLAIR scans in a multicenter fashion and are associated with DP over mid-term.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102802DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8408519PMC
August 2021

The effect of national disease-modifying therapy subsidy policy on long-term disability outcomes in people with multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2021 Aug 13:13524585211035948. Epub 2021 Aug 13.

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

Background: Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are used to treat people with relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis (ROMS), but our knowledge is largely limited to their short-term effects.

Objective: To determine (1) the impact of national-level DMT subsidy policy on DMT use and health outcomes in people with MS (PwMS) and (2) the long-term effects of DMT on disability and quality of life (QoL; 5-level EQ-5D version (EQ-5D-5L) utility value).

Methods: This observational cohort study compared Australian and New Zealand populations with different levels of DMT availability 10-20 years post-ROMS diagnosis. Between-country differences were assessed using standardised differences. Associations were assessed with multivariable linear regression models.

Results: We recruited 328 Australians and 256 New Zealanders. The Australian cohort had longer DMT treatment duration, greater proportion of disease course treated and shorter duration between diagnosis and starting DMT. The Australian cohort had lower median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) (3.5 vs 4.0) and Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) (3.05 vs 3.71) and higher QoL (0.71 vs 0.65). In multivariable models, between-country differences in disability and QoL were largely attributed to differential use of DMT.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence for the impact of national-level DMT policy on disability outcomes in PwMS. Where DMTs are more accessible, PwMS experienced less disability progression and improved QoL 10-20 years post-diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/13524585211035948DOI Listing
August 2021

Effects of High- and Low-Efficacy Therapy in Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

Neurology 2021 Aug 30;97(9):e869-e880. Epub 2021 Jun 30.

From the CORe (I.R., C.M., T.K.), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne; Melbourne MS Centre (I.R., K.B., C.M., T.K.), Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; Rennes University (E.L.), EHESP, REPERES EA 7449; Univ Rennes (E.L.), CHU Rennes, Inserm, CIC 1414 (Centre d'Investigation Clinique de Rennes); Université de Lyon (R.C.), Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1; Hospices Civils de Lyon (R.C.), Service de Neurologie, sclérose en plaques, pathologies de la myéline et neuro-inflammation, Bron; Observatoire Français de la Sclérose en Plaques (R.C.), Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon, INSERM 1028 et CNRS UMR 5292; EUGENE DEVIC EDMUS Foundation Against Multiple Sclerosis (R.C.), state-approved foundation, Bron, France; Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience (D.H., E.H.), First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University; General University Hospital (D.H., E.H.), Prague, Czech Republic; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G.I., S.E.M.), Sevilla, Spain; Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Advanced Technologies (F.P.), GF Ingrassia; Multiple Sclerosis Center (F.P.), University of Catania, Italy; Centre hospitalier universitaire de Rennes (G.E.), Hôpital Pontchaillou, Service de neurologie, CIC1414 INSERM; Nancy University Hospital (M.D.), Department of Neurology; Université de Lorraine (M.D.), APEMAC, Nancy, France; Aix Marseille Univ (J.P.), APHM, Hôpital de la Timone, Pôle de Neurosciences Cliniques, Service de Neurologie, France; Dokuz Eylul University (S.O.), Konak/Izmir, Turkey; Department of Neurosciences, Psychology, Drugs and Child Health Area (NEUROFARBA) (M.P.A.), Section Neurosciences, University of Florence, Italy; CHU Clermont-Ferrand (P.C.), Department of Neurology; Université Clermont Auvergne (P.C.), Inserm, Neuro-Dol, Clermont-Ferrand, France; CISSS Chaudière-Appalache (P.G.), Lévis, Canada; KTU Medical Faculty Farabi Hospital (C.B.), Trabzon, Turkey; Department of Neurology (K.B., O.S., H.B.), Box Hill Hospital, Monash University; The Alfred Hospital (O.S.), Melbourne, Australia; CHU de Toulouse (J.C.), Hôpital Pierre-Paul Riquet, Department of Neurology, CRC-SEP, Toulouse Cedex 9, France; Department of Neurology (O.G.), Zuyderland Medical Center, Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands; Neuro Rive-Sud (F.G.), Quebec, Canada; School of Medicine and Public Health (J.L.-S.), University Newcastle; Department of Neurology (J.L.-S.), John Hunter Hospital, Hunter New England Health, Newcastle; Central Clinical School (H.B.), Monash University; Department of Neurology (H.B.), The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Service de neurologie (S.V.), sclérose en plaques, pathologies de la myéline et neuro-inflammation; Hôpital Neurologique Pierre Wertheimer (S.V.), Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon/Bron; France Centre des Neurosciences de Lyon (S.V.), Observatoire Français de la Sclérose en Plaques, INSERM 1028 et CNRS UMR5292; and Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (S.V.), Faculté de médecine Lyon Est, France.

Objective: To compare the clinical effectiveness of high- and low-efficacy treatments in patients with recently active and inactive secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) after accounting for therapeutic lag.

Methods: Patients treated with high-efficacy (natalizumab, alemtuzumab, mitoxantrone, ocrelizumab, rituximab, cladribine, fingolimod) or low-efficacy (interferon beta, glatiramer acetate, teriflunomide) therapies after SPMS onset were selected from MSBase and Observatoire Français de la Sclérose en Plaques (OFSEP), 2 large observational cohorts. Therapeutic lag was estimated for each patient from their demographic and clinical characteristics. Propensity score was used to match patients treated with high- and low-efficacy therapies. Outcomes after the period of therapeutic lag was disregarded were compared in paired, pairwise-censored analyses.

Results: One thousand patients were included in the primary analysis. Patients with active SPMS treated with high-efficacy therapy experienced less frequent relapses than those on low-efficacy therapy (hazard ratio [HR] 0.7, = 0.006). In patients with inactive SPMS, there was no evidence for a difference in relapse frequency between groups (HR 0.8, = 0.39). No evidence for a difference in the risk of disability progression was observed.

Conclusion: In treated patients with SPMS, high-efficacy therapy is superior to low-efficacy therapy in reducing relapses in patients with active but not those with inactive SPMS. However, more potent therapies do not offer an advantage in reducing disability progression in this patient group.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that high-efficacy therapy is superior to low-efficacy therapy in reducing relapses in patients with active SPMS, although we did not find a difference in disability progression between patients treated with high- and low-efficacy therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012354DOI Listing
August 2021

Patient Preferences for Time and Location of Infusible Therapies in Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunologic Disorders.

Int J MS Care 2021 May-Jun;23(3):114-118. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Background: People with multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunologic disorders (herein referred to as patients) are increasingly treated with infusible monoclonal antibodies. This rise in demand has placed increased loads on current infusion services and mandates careful strategic planning. This study examined patient preferences for the timing and location of infusions and their association with demographic and disease variables to facilitate patient-focused strategic planning.

Methods: Ninety-one patients receiving an infusible therapy at an infusion service during March 2019 were asked to complete a questionnaire exploring eight domains, including preferences for time of infusions and location of infusion centers. Potential access to home-based treatment was included as an option. Unstructured (free-text) feedback on current service was also obtained.

Results: Eighty-three patients completed the survey (mean age, 42 years; 75% women). Infusions were predominantly natalizumab (66%) and ocrelizumab (25%). Of these patients, 71% were engaged in some form of work or study, and 83% of this group had to arrange time off from work or study to attend treatment. Seventy percent of patients would prefer their infusion before noon, and 60% would consider home-based infusions. Most used a car as their transport to the infusion service.

Conclusions: These results suggest that patients are more likely to prefer infusible treatment in the morning and are open to home-based infusions. This study provides information for health services to target service delivery at peak preference times and consider alternate ways of delivering infusible treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7224/1537-2073.2020-075DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8218584PMC
December 2020

The effectiveness of natalizumab vs fingolimod-A comparison of international registry studies.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Aug 8;53:103012. Epub 2021 May 8.

KTU Medical Faculty Farabi Hospital, Trabzon, Turkey.

Background: Natalizumab and fingolimod were the first preparations recommended for disease breakthrough in priorly treated relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Of three published head-to-head studies two showed that natalizumab is the more effective to prevent relapses and EDSS worsening.

Methods: By re-analyzing original published results from MSBase, France, and Denmark using uniform methodologies, we aimed at identifying the effects of differences in methodology, in the MS-populations, and at re-evaluating the differences in effectiveness between the two drugs. We gained access to copies of the individual amended databases and pooled all data. We used uniform inclusion/exclusion criteria and statistical methods with Inverse Probability Treatment Weighting.

Results: The pooled analyses comprised 968 natalizumab- and 1479 fingolimod treated patients. The on-treatment natalizumab/fingolimod relapse rate ratio was 0.77 (p=0.004). The hazard ratio (HR) for a first relapse was 0.82 (p=0.030), and the HR for sustained EDSS improvement was 1.4 (p=0.009). There were modest differences between each of the original published studies and the replication study, but the conclusions of the three original studies remained unchanged: in two of them natalizumab was more effective, but in the third there was no difference between natalizumab and fingolimod.

Conclusion: The results were largely invariant to the epidemiological and statistical methods but differed between the MS populations. Generally, the advantage of natalizumab was confirmed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2021.103012DOI Listing
August 2021

High rates of JCV seroconversion in a large international cohort of natalizumab-treated patients.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2021 16;14:1756286421998915. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Department of Neuroscience, Monash University, 99 Commercial Rd, Melbourne, VC 3004, Australia.

Aims: To retrospectively assess factors associated with John Cunningham virus (JCV) seroconversion in natalizumab-treated patients.

Background: Natalizumab is highly effective for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), but its use is complicated by opportunistic JCV infection. This virus can result in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Serial assessment of JCV serostatus is mandated during natalizumab treatment.

Methods: Patients treated with natalizumab for RRMS at six tertiary hospitals in Melbourne, Australia ( = 865) and 11 MS treatment centres in Brazil ( = 136) were assessed for change in JCV serostatus, duration of exposure to natalizumab and prior immunosuppression. Sensitivity analyses examined whether sex, age, tertiary centre, prior immunosuppression or number of JCV tests affected time to seroconversion.

Results: From a cohort of 1001 natalizumab-treated patients, durable positive seroconversion was observed in 83 of 345 initially JCV negative patients (24.1%; 7.3% per year). Conversely, 16 of 165 initially JCV positive patients experienced durable negative seroconversion (9.7%; 3.8% per year). Forty patients (3.9%) had fluctuating serostatus. Time-to-event analysis did not identify a relationship between JCV seroconversion and duration of natalizumab exposure. Prior exposure to immunosuppression was not associated with an increased hazard of positive JCV seroconversion. Male sex was associated with increased JCV seroconversion risk [adjusted hazard ratio 2.09 (95% confidence interval 1.17-3.71)  = 0.012].

Conclusion: In this large international cohort of natalizumab-treated patients we observed an annual durable positive seroconversion rate of 7.3%. This rate exceeds that noted in registration and post-marketing studies for natalizumab. This rate also greatly exceeds that predicted by epidemiological studies of JCV seroconversion in healthy populations. Taken together, our findings support emerging evidence that natalizumab causes off-target immune changes that may be trophic for JCV seroconversion. In addition, male sex may be associated with increased positive JCV seroconversion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756286421998915DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8053827PMC
April 2021

The MSBase pregnancy, neonatal outcomes, and women's health registry.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2021 12;14:17562864211009104. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Department of Neurology, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Dundonald, UK.

Background: Family planning and pregnancy decisions are key considerations in the management of women with multiple sclerosis (MS), who are typically diagnosed between the ages of 20-40 years. Despite a strong evidence base that pregnancy is not harmful for women with MS, many knowledge gaps remain. These include: best management strategies through pregnancy in the era of highly effective disease-modifying therapies (DMT); foetal risks associated with DMT exposure or in relation to breastfeeding; knowledge base around the use of assisted reproductive technologies; the long-term impact of pregnancy on disease outcomes, as well as the impact of long-term DMT use on women's health and cancer risk.

Methods: Here, we describe the new MSBase pregnancy, neonatal outcomes and women's health registry. We provide the rationale for, and detailed description of, the variables collected within the registry, together with data acquisition details.

Conclusion: The present paper will act as a reference document for future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/17562864211009104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047930PMC
April 2021

The development and impact of cladribine on lymphoid and myeloid cells in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Jul 15;52:102962. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

Department of Neuroscience, Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; Department of Neurology, Alfred Health, 55 Commercial Rd, Melbourne, VIC, 3004, Australia; Department of Neurology, Melbourne Health, Grattan St, Parkville, Vic, 3050, Australia; Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Grattan St, Parkville, Vic, 3050, Australia. Electronic address:

Cladribine is an approved selective immune reconstitution therapy for relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). It was first developed and used to treat various forms of cancer, particularly leukemia via parenteral administration. The oral tablet version of cladribine was later developed to treat RRMS, an autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) with periods of relapse and remission. Cladribine is found to selectively deplete adaptive immune cell types, and its role on innate immune cells is largely unknown. Among the lymphocyte populations and subtypes, the magnitude and kinetics of depletion by cladribine vary substantially. The current consensus on the selective cytotoxic effect of cladribine is that it is dependent on the deoxycytidine kinase (DCK) to 5'nucleotidase (5-NT) ratio of the immune cell type. Nonetheless, there are some discrepancies that cannot be fully elucidated by the DCK:5-NT ratio paradigm. This review aims to delineate the development and pharmacological properties of cladribine, and elucidate its influence on lymphoid and myeloid cells in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2021.102962DOI Listing
July 2021

Early treatment delays long-term disability accrual in RRMS: Results from the BMSD network.

Mult Scler 2021 Sep 26;27(10):1543-1555. Epub 2021 Apr 26.

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

Background: The optimal timing of treatment starts for achieving the best control on the long-term disability accumulation in multiple sclerosis (MS) is still to be defined.

Objective: The aim of this study was to estimate the optimal time to start disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) to prevent the long-term disability accumulation in MS, using a pooled dataset from the Big Multiple Sclerosis Data (BMSD) network.

Methods: Multivariable Cox regression models adjusted for the time to first treatment start from disease onset (in quintiles) were used. To mitigate the impact of potential biases, a set of pairwise propensity score (PS)-matched analyses were performed. The first quintile, including patients treated within 1.2 years from onset, was used as reference.

Results: A cohort of 11,871 patients (median follow-up after treatment start: 13.2 years) was analyzed. A 3- and 12-month confirmed disability worsening event and irreversible Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 4.0 and 6.0 scores were reached by 7062 (59.5%), 4138 (34.9%), 3209 (31.1%), and 1909 (16.5%) patients, respectively. The risk of reaching all the disability outcomes was significantly lower ( < 0.0004) for the first quintile patients' group.

Conclusion: Real-world data from the BMSD demonstrate that DMTs should be commenced within 1.2 years from the disease onset to reduce the risk of disability accumulation over the long term.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/13524585211010128DOI Listing
September 2021

Natalizumab, Fingolimod and Dimethyl Fumarate Use and Pregnancy-Related Relapse and Disability in Women With Multiple Sclerosis.

Neurology 2021 Apr 20. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Liverpool Hospital, Australia.

Objective: To investigate pregnancy-related disease activity in a contemporary multiple sclerosis (MS) cohort.

Methods: Using data from the MSBase Registry, we included pregnancies conceived after 31 Dec 2010 from women with relapsing-remitting MS or clinically isolated syndrome. Predictors of intrapartum relapse, and postpartum relapse and disability progression were determined by clustered logistic regression or Cox regression analyses.

Results: We included 1998 pregnancies from 1619 women with MS. Preconception annualized relapse rate (ARR) was 0.29 (95% CI 0.27-0.32), fell to 0.19 (0.14-0.24) in third trimester, and increased to 0.59 (0.51-0.67) in early postpartum. Among women who used fingolimod or natalizumab, ARR before pregnancy was 0.37 (0.28-0.49) and 0.29 (0.22-0.37), respectively, and increased during pregnancy. Intrapartum ARR decreased with preconception dimethyl fumarate use. ARR spiked after delivery across all DMT groups. Natalizumab continuation into pregnancy reduced the odds of relapse during pregnancy (OR 0.76 per month [0.60-0.95], p=0.017). DMT re-initiation with natalizumab protected against postpartum relapse (HR 0.11 [0.04-0.32], p<0.0001). Breastfeeding women were less likely to relapse (HR 0.61 [0.41-0.91], p=0.016). 5.6% of pregnancies were followed by confirmed disability progression, predicted by higher relapse activity in pregnancy and postpartum.

Conclusion: Intrapartum and postpartum relapse probabilities increased among women with MS after natalizumab or fingolimod cessation. In women considered to be at high relapse risk, use of natalizumab before pregnancy and continued up to 34 weeks gestation, with early re-initiation after delivery is an effective option to minimize relapse risks. Strategies of DMT use have to be balanced against potential fetal/neonatal complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012084DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8253565PMC
April 2021

Treatment Switching and Discontinuation Over 20 Years in the Big Multiple Sclerosis Data Network.

Front Neurol 2021 17;12:647811. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Although over a dozen disease modifying treatments (DMTs) are available for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), treatment interruption, switching and discontinuation are common challenges. The objective of this study was to describe treatment interruption and discontinuation in the Big MS data network. We merged information on 269,822 treatment episodes in 110,326 patients from 1997 to 2016 from five clinical registries in this cohort study. Treatment stop was defined as a clinician recorded DMT end for any reason and included treatment interruptions, switching to alternate DMTs and long-term or permanent discontinuations. The incidence of DMT stopping cross the full observation period was lowest in FTY (19.7 per 100 person-years (PY) of treatment; 95% CI 19.2-20.1), followed by NAT (22.6/100 PY; 95% CI 22.2-23.0), IFNβ (23.3/100 PY; 95% CI 23.2-23.5). Of the 184,013 observed DMT stops, 159,309 (86.6%) switched to an alternate DMT within 6 months. Reasons for stopping a drug were stable during the observation period with lack of efficacy being the most common reason followed by lack of tolerance and side effects. The proportion of patients continuing on most DMTs were similarly stable until 2014 and 2015 when drop from 83 to 75% was noted. DMT stopping reasons and rates were mostly stable over time with a slight increase in recent years, with the availability of more DMTs. The overall results suggest that discontinuation of MS DMTs is mostly due to DMT properties and to a lesser extent to risk management and a competitive market.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2021.647811DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010264PMC
March 2021

Risk of requiring a wheelchair in primary progressive multiple sclerosis: Data from the ORATORIO trial and the MSBase registry.

Eur J Neurol 2021 Mar 16. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

McGovern Medical School, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), Houston, Texas, USA.

Background And Purpose: Reaching Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) ≥7.0 represents the requirement for a wheelchair. Here we (i) assess the effect of ocrelizumab on time to EDSS ≥7.0 over the ORATORIO (NCT01194570) double-blind and extended controlled periods (DBP+ECP), (ii) quantify likely long-term benefits by extrapolating results, and (iii) assess the plausibility of extrapolations using an independent real-world cohort (MSBase registry; ACTRN12605000455662).

Methods: Post hoc analyses assessing time to 24-week confirmed EDSS ≥7.0 in two cohorts of patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (baseline EDSS 3.0-6.5) were investigated in ORATORIO and MSBase.

Results: In the ORATORIO DBP+ECP, ocrelizumab reduced the risk of 24-week confirmed EDSS ≥7.0 (hazard ratio = 0.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.31-0.92; p = 0.022). Extrapolated median time to 24-week confirmed EDSS ≥7.0 was 12.1 and 19.2 years for placebo and ocrelizumab, respectively (7.1-year delay [95% CI: -4.3 to 18.4]). In MSBase, the median time to 24-week confirmed EDSS ≥7.0 was 12.4 years.

Conclusions: Compared with placebo, ocrelizumab significantly delayed time to 24-week confirmed wheelchair requirement in ORATORIO. The plausibility of the extrapolated median time to reach this milestone in the placebo group was supported by observed real-world data from MSBase. Extrapolated benefits for ocrelizumab over placebo could represent a truly meaningful delay in loss of ambulation and independence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ene.14824DOI Listing
March 2021

Prognostic value of acute cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities in antibody-positive autoimmune encephalitis.

J Neuroimmunol 2021 04 30;353:577508. Epub 2021 Jan 30.

Department of Neuroscience, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, Melbourne Health, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address:

Objective: To examine the prognostic value of CSF abnormalities in seropositive autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

Methods: We retrospectively studied 57 cases of seropositive AE. Primary outcomes were mortality and modified Rankin Scale, while secondary outcomes were first line treatment failure, ICU admission and relapse. Regression analysis was performed.

Results: CSF white cell count (WCC) was higher in the NMDAR group, while elevated protein was more common amongst other subtypes. We found an association between WCC >5 cells/mm and treatment failure (OR 16.0, p = 0.006)), and between WCC >20 cells/mm and ICU admission (OR 19.3, p = 0.026).

Conclusions: Different subsets of AE have characteristic CSF abnormalities, which may aid recognition during early evaluation. CSF WCC had prognostic significance in our study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2021.577508DOI Listing
April 2021

Peripheral Immune Cell Ratios and Clinical Outcomes in Seropositive Autoimmune Encephalitis: A Study by the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium.

Front Immunol 2020 14;11:597858. Epub 2021 Jan 14.

Department of Neuroscience, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Objective: To examine the utility of the peripheral blood neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio (MLR) as biomarkers of prognosis in seropositive autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

Methods: In this multicenter study, we retrospectively analyzed 57 cases of seropositive AE with hospital admissions between January 2008 and June 2019. The initial full blood examination was used to determine each patients' NLR and MLR. The modified Rankin Scale (mRS) was utilized to assess the patients' follow-up disability at 12 months and then at final follow-up. Primary outcomes were mortality and mRS, while secondary outcomes were failure of first line treatment, ICU admission, and clinical relapse. Univariate and multivariable regression analysis was performed.

Results: During initial hospital admission 44.7% of patients had unsuccessful first line treatment. After a median follow-up of 700 days, 82.7% had good functional outcome (mRS ≤2) while five patients had died. On multivariable analysis, high NLR was associated with higher odds of first line treatment failure (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.03-1.69, p = 0.029). Increased MLR was not associated with any short or long-term outcome.

Conclusions: NLR on initial hospital admission blood tests may be provide important prognostic information for cases of seropositive AE. This study demonstrates the potential use of NLR as a prognostic marker in the clinical evaluation of patients with seropositive AE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.597858DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7840591PMC
June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Determinants of therapeutic lag in multiple sclerosis.

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

CHU de Caen, MS Expert Centre, Department of Neurology, avenue de la Côte-de-Nacre, Normandy University, Caen, France.

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

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

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

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

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

Effect of Disease-Modifying Therapy on Disability in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Over 15 Years.

Neurology 2021 02 28;96(5):e783-e797. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

From CORe (T.K., I.D., S.S., C.M.), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne; MS Centre (T.K., I.D., S.S., C.M.), Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; Karolinska Institute (T.S.), Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Neuroscience (T.S., V.J., A.v.d.W., O.S., H.B.), Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne; Burnet Institute (T.S.), Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology and Center of Clinical Neuroscience (D.H., E.K.H.), General University Hospital and Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs (M. Trojano), University of Bari, Italy; Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena (G.I.), Sevilla, Spain; Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences (A.L.), University "G. d'Annunzio," Chieti; Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences (A.L.), University of Bologna, IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Italy; Hopital Notre Dame (A.P., M.G., P.D.), Montreal; CHUM and Universite de Montreal (A.P., M.G., P.D.); CISSS Chaudière-Appalache (P.G.), Levis, Canada; Department of Neurology (V.J., A.v.d.W., O.S., H.B.), Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Neuro Rive-Sud (F. Grand'Maison), Quebec, Canada; Department of Neuroscience (P.S., D.F.), Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Modena, Italy; Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (V.S.), Isfahan, Iran; Amiri Hospital (R. Alroughani), Kuwait City, Kuwait; Zuyderland Ziekenhuis (R.H.), Sittard, the Netherlands; Medical Faculty (M. Terzi), 19 Mayis University, Samsun; KTU Medical Faculty Farabi Hospital (C.B.), Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey; School of Medicine and Public Health (J.L.-S.), University Newcastle; Department of Neurology (J.L.-S.), John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia; UOC Neurologia (E.P.), Azienda Sanitaria Unica Regionale Marche-AV3, Macerata, Italy; Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc (V.V.P.), Brussels, Belgium; University of Parma (F. Granella); C. Mondino National Neurological Institute (R.B.), Pavia; Azienda Ospedaliera di Rilievo Nazionale San Giuseppe Moscati Avellino (D.S.), Italy; Flinders University (M. Slee), Adelaide; Westmead Hospital (S.V.), Sydney, Australia; Nemocnice Jihlava (R. Ampapa), Czech Republic; University of Queensland (P.M.), Brisbane; Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (P.M.), Brisbane, Australia; Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (C.R.-T.), Badalona, Spain; CSSS Saint-Jérôme (J.P.), Canada; Hospital Universitario Donostia (J.O.), Paseo de Begiristain, San Sebastián, Spain; Hospital Italiano (E.C.), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Brain and Mind Centre (M.B.), University of Sydney, Australia; INEBA-Institute of Neuroscience Buenos Aires (M.L.S.), Argentina; Hospital de Galdakao-Usansolo (J.L.S.-M.), Galdakao, Spain; Liverpool Hospital (S. Hodgkinson), Sydney, Australia; Jahn Ferenc Teaching Hospital (C.R.), Budapest, Hungary; Craigavon Area Hospital (S. Hughes), UK; Jewish General Hospital (F.M.), Montreal, Canada; Deakin University (C.S.), Geelong; Monash Medical Centre (E.B.), Melbourne, Australia; South East Trust (O.G.), Belfast, UK; Perron Institute (A.K.), University of Western Australia, Nedlands; Institute of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (A.K.), Murdoch University; Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (A.K.), Perth, Australia; Department of Neurology (T.C.), Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen, Hungary; Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences (B.S.), Mumbai, India; St Vincents Hospital (N.S.), Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia; Veszprém Megyei Csolnoky Ferenc Kórház zrt (I.P.), Veszprem, Hungary; Royal Hobart Hospital (B.T.), Australia; Semmelweis University Budapest (M. Simo), Hungary; Central Military Emergency University Hospital (C.-A.S.), Bucharest; Titu Maiorescu University (C.-A.S.), Bucharest, Romania; BAZ County Hospital (A.S.), Miskolc, Hungary; and Box Hill Hospital (H.B.), Melbourne, Australia.

Objective: To test the hypothesis that immunotherapy prevents long-term disability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), we modeled disability outcomes in 14,717 patients.

Methods: We studied patients from MSBase followed for ≥1 year, with ≥3 visits, ≥1 visit per year, and exposed to MS therapy, and a subset of patients with ≥15-year follow-up. Marginal structural models were used to compare the cumulative hazards of 12-month confirmed increase and decrease in disability, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) step 6, and the incidence of relapses between treated and untreated periods. Marginal structural models were continuously readjusted for patient age, sex, pregnancy, date, disease course, time from first symptom, prior relapse history, disability, and MRI activity.

Results: A total of 14,717 patients were studied. During the treated periods, patients were less likely to experience relapses (hazard ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.43-0.82, = 0.0016), worsening of disability (0.56, 0.38-0.82, = 0.0026), and progress to EDSS step 6 (0.33, 0.19-0.59, = 0.00019). Among 1,085 patients with ≥15-year follow-up, the treated patients were less likely to experience relapses (0.59, 0.50-0.70, = 10) and worsening of disability (0.81, 0.67-0.99, = 0.043).

Conclusion: Continued treatment with MS immunotherapies reduces disability accrual by 19%-44% (95% CI 1%-62%), the risk of need of a walking aid by 67% (95% CI 41%-81%), and the frequency of relapses by 40-41% (95% CI 18%-57%) over 15 years. This study provides evidence that disease-modifying therapies are effective in improving disability outcomes in relapsing-remitting MS over the long term.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that, for patients with relapsing-remitting MS, long-term exposure to immunotherapy prevents neurologic disability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000011242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884998PMC
February 2021

Epigenetic differences at the HTR2A locus in progressive multiple sclerosis patients.

Sci Rep 2020 12 17;10(1):22217. Epub 2020 Dec 17.

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia.

The pathology of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is poorly understood. We have previously assessed DNA methylation in the CD4 T cells of relapsing-remitting (RR) MS patients compared to healthy controls and identified differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in HLA-DRB1 and RNF39. This study aimed to investigate the DNA methylation profiles of the CD4 T cells of progressive MS patients. DNA methylation was measured in two separate case/control cohorts using the Illumina 450K/EPIC arrays and data was analysed with the Chip Analysis Methylation Pipeline (ChAMP). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were assessed using the Illumina Human OmniExpress24 arrays and analysed using PLINK. Expression was assessed using the Illumina HT12 array and analysed in R using a combination of Limma and Illuminaio. We identified three DMRs at HTR2A, SLC17A9 and HDAC4 that were consistent across both cohorts. The DMR at HTR2A is located within the bounds of a haplotype block; however, the DMR remained significant after accounting for SNPs in the region. No expression changes were detected in any DMRs. HTR2A is differentially methylated in progressive MS independent of genotype. This differential methylation is not evident in RRMS, making it a potential biomarker of progressive disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78809-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7747721PMC
December 2020

Fast and safe: Optimising multiple sclerosis infusions during COVID-19 pandemic.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2021 Jan 1;47:102642. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Alfred Health, Clinical Neurosciences, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne Australia.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic challenges multiple sclerosis services to be innovative in delivering infusible therapies. To reduce time in clinical settings, and potential staff or space losses, we implemented rapid infusion protocols for selected patients.

Objective: To analyse the rate of infusion related reactions and patient experience of rapid infusions of natalizumab and ocrelizumab. To document time reduction patients spent in clinical settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Patients with prior exposure to at least three natalizumab or two 300mg ocrelizumab infusions were approved for rapid protocols. A retrospective audit and survey were completed.

Results: We analysed 269 rapid natalizumab infusions and 100 rapid ocrelizumab infusions. Infusion related reactions during the natalizumab or ocrelizumab infusions occurred in two patients (1.52%) and eight patients (8%), respectively. All infusion related reactions were mild to moderate and did not require infusion discontinuation. No infusion reactions occurred during the post-infusion observation. Patient experience was positive.

Conclusion: Frequency or severity of infusion related reactions in rapid infusions were no different compared to published data. In the setting of COVID-19, pandemic rapid infusion protocols could potentially save hospital resources and limit patient exposure to a high-risk clinical setting while still maintaining ongoing treatment of multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102642DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955770PMC
January 2021

Natalizumab versus fingolimod for patients with active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: results from REVEAL, a prospective, randomised head-to-head study.

BMJ Open 2020 10 20;10(10):e038861. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Biogen (at the time of these analyses), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Objective: To directly compare the efficacy of natalizumab and fingolimod in patients with active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Methods: This phase 4, randomised, rater- and sponsor-blinded, prospective, parallel-group, clinic-based head-to-head study was conducted at 43 sites in nine countries. Patients were randomised (1:1) to intravenous natalizumab 300 mg every 4 weeks or oral fingolimod 0.5 mg once daily for ≤52 weeks. Enrolment-related early study termination precluded assessment of the primary endpoint (evolution of new on-treatment gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) lesions to persistent black holes). Unplanned exploratory analyses of secondary endpoints evaluated the effects of treatment on the development of new T1 Gd+ lesions and new/newly enlarging T2 lesions, lesion volumes and relapse outcomes.

Results: The intent-to-treat population comprised 108 patients (natalizumab, n=54; fingolimod, n=54); 63 completed ≥24 weeks of treatment. Due to the limited numbers of events and patients at risk, MRI and relapse outcomes were reported over up to 24 and 36 weeks, respectively. The mean number of new T1 Gd+ lesions was numerically lower with natalizumab than with fingolimod by 4 weeks; accumulation rates were 0.02 and 0.09 per week, respectively, over 24 weeks (p=0.004). The cumulative probability of developing ≥1 lesion at 24 weeks was 40.7% with natalizumab versus 58.0% with fingolimod (HR=0.60; 95% CI 0.31-1.16; p=0.126); the corresponding probabilities for ≥2 lesions were 11.5% vs 48.5% (HR=0.25; 95% CI 0.09-0.68; p=0.007). No significant between-group differences were observed for the other MRI outcomes at 24 weeks. The cumulative probability of relapse over follow-up was 1.9% with natalizumab versus 22.3% with fingolimod (HR=0.08; 95% CI 0.01-0.64; p=0.017). Adverse events were consistent with known safety profiles.

Conclusions: These results suggest that natalizumab is more efficacious than fingolimod in reducing multiple sclerosis relapses and T1 Gd+ lesion accumulation in patients with active disease.

Trial Registration Numbers: NCT02342704; EUCTR2013-004622-29-IT; Post-results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038861DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7577060PMC
October 2020

The Pharmacogenetics of Rituximab: Potential Implications for Anti-CD20 Therapies in Multiple Sclerosis.

Neurotherapeutics 2020 10 14;17(4):1768-1784. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

There are a broad range of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) available in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), but limited biomarkers exist to personalise DMT choice. All DMTs, including monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab and ocrelizumab, are effective in preventing relapses and preserving neurological function in MS. However, each agent harbours its own risk of therapeutic failure or adverse events. Pharmacogenetics, the study of the effects of genetic variation on therapeutic response or adverse events, could improve the precision of DMT selection. Pharmacogenetic studies of rituximab in MS patients are lacking, but pharmacogenetic markers in other rituximab-treated autoimmune conditions have been identified. This review will outline the wider implications of pharmacogenetics and the mechanisms of anti-CD20 agents in MS. We explore the non-MS rituximab literature to characterise pharmacogenetic variants that could be of prognostic relevance in those receiving rituximab, ocrelizumab or other monoclonal antibodies for MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13311-020-00950-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851267PMC
October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparison of first-line and second-line use of fingolimod in relapsing MS: The open-label EARLIMS study.

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2020 Jul-Sep;6(3):2055217320957358. Epub 2020 Sep 13.

Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.

Background: Treatment of MS often begins with low-efficacy injectable disease-modifying therapy (iDMT).

Objectives: To compare the effect of fingolimod 0.5 mg/day on clinical, MRI, patient-reported, and safety outcomes, in treatment-naïve and previously treated (≥1 iDMT) patients with early MS.

Methods: EARLIMS was a multicentre, open-label, non-randomized, parallel-group phase 3 b/4 study in Australia and Spain. Patients with relapsing-remitting MS, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score <4.0, and ≥1-5 years since diagnosis, received daily fingolimod for 48 weeks. The primary endpoint was annualized relapse rate (ARR).

Results: Of 347 patients enrolled at 51 sites (treatment-naïve, 200 [57.6%]; previously treated, 147 [42.4%]), 320 completed the study (treatment-naïve, 184 [92.0%]; previously treated, 136 [92.5%]), but the study remained underpowered (planned enrolment, n = 432). Fingolimod reduced ARR to similar levels in both treatment-naïve (mean ARR [95% confidence interval], 0.21 [0.14, 0.29]) and previously treated groups (0.30 [0.20, 0.41]; p = 0.1668). There were no new safety signals.

Conclusions: Fingolimod appeared equally effective as first- or second-line therapy in relapsing MS. There was a trend for better outcomes with fingolimod in treatment-naïve patients than in those previously treated with >1 iDMT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2055217320957358DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7493256PMC
September 2020

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

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

Bakirkoy Education and Research Hospital for Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases, Istanbul, 34142, Turkey.

In multiple sclerosis, treatment start or switch is prompted by evidence of disease activity. Whilst immunomodulatory therapies reduce disease activity, the time required to attain maximal effect is unclear. In this study we aimed to develop a method that allows identification of the time to manifest fully and clinically the effect of multiple sclerosis treatments ('therapeutic lag') on clinical disease activity represented by relapses and progression-of-disability events. Data from two multiple sclerosis registries, MSBase (multinational) and OFSEP (French), were used. Patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, minimum 1-year exposure to treatment, minimum 3-year pretreatment follow-up and yearly review were included in the analysis. For analysis of disability progression, all events in the subsequent 5-year period were included. Density curves, representing incidence of relapses and 6-month confirmed progression events, were separately constructed for each sufficiently represented therapy. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to identify the first local minimum of the first derivative after treatment start; this point represented the point of stabilization of treatment effect, after the maximum treatment effect was observed. The method was developed in a discovery cohort (MSBase), and externally validated in a separate, non-overlapping cohort (OFSEP). A merged MSBase-OFSEP cohort was used for all subsequent analyses. Annualized relapse rates were compared in the time before treatment start and after the stabilization of treatment effect following commencement of each therapy. We identified 11 180 eligible treatment epochs for analysis of relapses and 4088 treatment epochs for disability progression. External validation was performed in four therapies, with no significant difference in the bootstrapped mean differences in therapeutic lag duration between registries. The duration of therapeutic lag for relapses was calculated for 10 therapies and ranged between 12 and 30 weeks. The duration of therapeutic lag for disability progression was calculated for seven therapies and ranged between 30 and 70 weeks. Significant differences in the pre- versus post-treatment annualized relapse rate were present for all therapies apart from intramuscular interferon beta-1a. In conclusion we have developed, and externally validated, a method to objectively quantify the duration of therapeutic lag on relapses and disability progression in different therapies in patients more than 3 years from multiple sclerosis onset. Objectively defined periods of expected therapeutic lag allows insights into the evaluation of treatment response in randomized clinical trials and may guide clinical decision-making in patients who experience early on-treatment disease activity. This method will subsequently be applied in studies that evaluate the effect of patient and disease characteristics on therapeutic lag.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa231DOI Listing
September 2020

Association of Pregnancy With the Onset of Clinically Isolated Syndrome.

JAMA Neurol 2020 12;77(12):1496-1503

Department of Neurology, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Importance: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is usually diagnosed in women during their childbearing years. Currently, no consensus exists on whether pregnancy can delay the first episode of demyelination or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS).

Objective: To investigate the association of pregnancy with time to CIS onset.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This multicenter cohort study collected reproductive history (duration of each pregnancy, date of delivery, length of breastfeeding) on all participants between September 1, 2016, and June 25, 2019. Adult women being treated at the MS outpatient clinics of 4 tertiary hospitals in 2 countries (Charles University and General University Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic; Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia; Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia; and John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia) were recruited to participate in the study. Preexisting data (date of CIS onset, date of birth, sex, date of clinical onset, and Expanded Disability Status Scale result) were collected from MSBase, an international registry of long-term prospectively collected data on patients with MS. Data analyses were performed from June 1, 2019, to February 3, 2020.

Exposures: Gravida (defined as any pregnancy, including pregnancy that ended in miscarriage and induced abortion) and parity (defined as childbirth after gestational age of more than 20 weeks, including livebirth and stillbirth) before CIS onset.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Time to CIS onset. The following were assessed: (1) whether women with previous pregnancies and childbirths had a delayed onset of CIS compared with those who had never been pregnant and those who had never given birth, and (2) whether a dose response existed, whereby a higher number of gravidity and parity was associated with a later onset of CIS.

Results: Of the 2557 women included in the study, the mean (SD) age at CIS onset was 31.5 (9.7) years. Of these women, before CIS onset, 1188 (46%) had at least 1 pregnancy and 1100 (43%) had at least 1 childbirth. The mean (SD) age at first pregnancy was 23.3 (4.5) years and at first childbirth was 23.8 (4.5) years. Women with previous pregnancies and childbirths had a later onset of CIS compared with those who had never been pregnant (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.62-0.75; P < .001), with a median delay of 3.3 (95% CI, 2.5-4.1) years. Women who had given birth also had a later CIS onset compared with women who had never given birth (HR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.61-0.75; P < .001), with a similar median delay of 3.4 (95% CI, 1.6-5.2) years. A higher gravidity and parity number was not associated with delay in CIS onset.

Conclusions And Relevance: This study suggests an association between previous pregnancies and childbirths and timing of CIS onset, but having more pregnancies or childbirths did not appear to be associated with a later CIS onset. Further studies are needed to help explain the mechanisms behind the associations between pregnancy and onset of multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.3324DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7490748PMC
December 2020

Immunoregulatory effects and therapeutic potential of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis.

Br J Pharmacol 2020 09 5;177(18):4113-4133. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Initially recognised as an important factor for bone health, vitamin D is now known to have a range of effects on the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the CNS. In this review, we explore the links between vitamin D deficiency, MS risk, and disease activity. We also discuss the known immune effects of vitamin D supplementation and the relevance of these observations to the immunopathology of MS. Finally, we review the existing evidence for vitamin D supplementation as an MS therapy, highlighting several recent clinical studies and trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.15201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7443468PMC
September 2020

COVID-19 in people with multiple sclerosis: A global data sharing initiative.

Mult Scler 2020 09 14;26(10):1157-1162. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

MSBase Registry, Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: We need high-quality data to assess the determinants for COVID-19 severity in people with MS (PwMS). Several studies have recently emerged but there is great benefit in aligning data collection efforts at a global scale.

Objectives: Our mission is to scale-up COVID-19 data collection efforts and provide the MS community with data-driven insights as soon as possible.

Methods: Numerous stakeholders were brought together. Small dedicated interdisciplinary task forces were created to speed-up the formulation of the study design and work plan. First step was to agree upon a COVID-19 MS core data set. Second, we worked on providing a user-friendly and rapid pipeline to share COVID-19 data at a global scale.

Results: The COVID-19 MS core data set was agreed within 48 hours. To date, 23 data collection partners are involved and the first data imports have been performed successfully. Data processing and analysis is an on-going process.

Conclusions: We reached a consensus on a core data set and established data sharing processes with multiple partners to address an urgent need for information to guide clinical practice. First results show that partners are motivated to share data to attain the ultimate joint goal: better understand the effect of COVID-19 in PwMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520941485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361123PMC
September 2020
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