Publications by authors named "Pamela Ann McCombe"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real-world effectiveness of cladribine for Australian patients with multiple sclerosis: An MSBase registry substudy.

Mult Scler 2021 03 12;27(3):465-474. Epub 2020 Jun 12.

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

Background/objective: Observational clinical data from cladribine-treated patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) were recorded in the Australian MS registry powered by the MSBase registry platform (5-year follow-up) and analysed to complement information from the pivotal cladribine clinical trials in MS.

Methods: A cohort of 90 cladribine-treated patients with follow-up data reported by treating physicians and recorded in the Australian MSBase registry (database lock February 2016) were examined. Clinical data included Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, relapses and other disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) administered before and after cladribine treatment.

Results: Mean age on starting cladribine was 47 years; mean age at MS onset was 34 years, and median baseline EDSS score was 5.25. Disability trajectories in patients with sufficient follow-up suggested an overall increasing trend prior to cladribine treatment which was reduced during the 2-year post-treatment. Approximately 80% of patients were EDSS progression-free, 65% remained relapse-free after 2 years and median time to next DMD was 1.7 years.

Conclusion: These observational data suggest a disease-modifying effect in this cohort of relapsing MS patients characterised by older and more disabled patients. Since these data represent a single-arm cohort, clinical trials and larger comparative post-marketing studies are needed to validate and extend these findings.
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March 2021

Plasma from some patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis exhibits elevated formaldehyde levels.

J Neurol Sci 2020 Feb 22;409:116589. Epub 2019 Nov 22.

The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia; Wesley Medical Research, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, QLD, Australia. Electronic address:

Introduction: The aim of this study was to determine whether patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) exhibit higher plasma levels of formaldehyde (FA) than controls, and to look for alterations in levels of FA precursors.

Methods: We studied 40 heathy controls and 50 ALS patients from the Motor Neuron Disease clinic at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital. Plasma FA levels were quantified using a FA detection assay. Trimethylamine (TMA) and trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) in plasma were quantified by multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mass spectrometry. Plasma levels in patients and controls were compared using Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman's correlation test was used to assess the correlation between levels of FA, TMA, TMAO and other variables.

Results: The levels of plasma FA were significantly greater in ALS subjects than controls. TMA and TMAO levels were not significantly different between healthy controls and patients, but were greater in ALS subjects with elevated FA levels than those with normal levels. Of note, levels of TMA and TMAO demonstrated a significant positive correlation with plasma FA levels (spearman's correlation coefficients of TMA with FA [r = 0.451, p = 0.010] and TMAO [r = 0.401, p = 0.023]). There was no association of FA levels with disability measured with the ALS functional rating scale, with the duration of disease or with the age of the subjects.

Conclusion: Elevated FA is found in some patients with ALS. FA is neurotoxic and could contribute to disease pathogenesis.
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February 2020

Mass spectrometry analysis of plasma from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and control subjects.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener 2018 08 31;19(5-6):362-376. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

a The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research , Brisbane , Queensland , Australia.

Mass spectrometry was used to study blood samples from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and healthy controls. Addenbrooke's cognitive examination-III (ACE-III) was used to test for cognitive impairment (CI). Nano liquid chromatography and time of flight mass spectrometry (MS) were performed on samples from 42 ALS patients and 18 healthy controls. SWATH™ proteomic analysis was utilized to look for differences between groups. Western blot analysis was used to study levels of 4 proteins, selected as being of possible interest in ALS, in the MS discovery cohort and a second validation group of 10 ALS patients and 10 healthy controls. INGENUITY PATHWAY ANALYSIS (IPA) was applied to the final proteomic data. Between ALS patients and controls, there were significant differences in the expression of 30 proteins. Between controls and ALS patients without CI, there were significant differences in 15 proteins. Between controls and ALS patients with CI, there were significant differences in 32 proteins. Changes in levels of gelsolin, clusterin, and CD5L were validated by using western blot analysis in the discovery cohort. Changes in the expression of gelsolin, clusterin, and ficolin 3 were replicated in a validation group. In ALS, the LXR/RXR and coagulation pathways were downregulated whereas the complement pathway was upregulated. The proteomic data were used to produce two new networks, centered on IL1 and on NFkB, which showed altered levels in ALS. This study highlights the usefulness of MS of blood samples as a tool to study ALS.
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August 2018

Screening for cognitive and behavioural impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Frequency of abnormality and effect on survival.

J Neurol Sci 2017 May 27;376:16-23. Epub 2017 Feb 27.

The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Centre for Clinical Research, Queensland, Australia.

Objective: To screen for cognitive and behavioural impairment in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and controls with neuromuscular disease and to correlate these with clinical features.

Methods: 108 people with ALS and 60 controls with other neuromuscular diseases were recruited and assessed with the Addenbrooke's cognitive examination-III (ACE-III), the frontal assessment battery (FAB), and the executive function component of the Edinburgh cognitive and behavioural ALS screen (ECAS). The Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-Frontotemporal dementia questionnaire (ALS-FTD-Q) and the Motor Neuron Disease Behavioural instrument (MiND-B) were administered to the caregivers of people with ALS. The prevalence of abnormalities was determined and correlated with clinical features and survival. In 37 people with ALS, serial studies were performed.

Results: The frequencies of cognitive impairment based on the ACE-III and FAB were 30.0% and 14.0%, in ALS and 11.7% and 3.3% in controls, respectively. Age and years of education influence the results of the ACE-III and ECAS executive function. In ALS, the frequencies of behavioural impairment based on ALS-FTD-Q and MiND-B were 32.1% and 39.4%, respectively. There is significant correlation of ALS-FTD-Q and MiND-B with the ALSFRS-R score. ALS participants with cognitive impairment measured with ACE-III had significantly shorter survival time than those without. ALS participants with behavioural impairment measured with ALS-FTD-Q had worse prognosis than those without. No significant difference was found between the first two serial cognitive tests based on ACE-III and FAB by using generalized estimating equation.

Conclusion: There is a greater frequency of cognitive impairment in people with ALS than in patients with other neuromuscular diseases. The cognitive and behavioural tests are potential biomarkers of the prognosis of ALS. The results of cognitive tests are stable over 6months and possibly longer.
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May 2017

Neurofilaments as Biomarkers for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

PLoS One 2016 12;11(10):e0164625. Epub 2016 Oct 12.

Centre for Clinical Research, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: To allow early diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression, there is a need for biomarkers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Neurofilaments (NF) are emerging protein biomarkers in other neurological diseases, and are of possible use in ALS.

Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate the utility of NF levels as blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker in patients with ALS.

Methods: A systematic search of Pubmed, Embase and Scopus was performed. Methodological quality assessment was applied to refine the final search results. Meta-analysis of the data was performed.

Results: Level of NF heavy chain and light chains were significantly elevated in the CSF of ALS patients compared to healthy controls/controls without parenchymal central nervous system (CNS) involvement and ALS mimic disease patients. NF light chain level in CSF was higher in ALS patients than in neurological patients with CNS involvement (SMD = 1.352, P = 0.01). NF light chain concentration in blood was higher in ALS patients than healthy controls/controls without CNS involvement (SMD = 1.448, P<0.0001). NF heavy chain levels in CSF were negatively correlated disease duration and ALSFRS-R ((r = -0.447, P<0.0001; r = -0.486, P<0.0001). NF light chain levels in CSF were negatively correlated with disease duration (r = -0.273, P = 0.011).

Conclusion: NF heavy and light chain levels have potential use as a marker of neural degeneration in ALS, but are not specific for the disease, and are more likely to be used as measures of disease progression.
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May 2017