Publications by authors named "Pamela McCombe"

121 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

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
February 2021

Altered skeletal muscle glucose-fatty acid flux in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Brain Commun 2020 24;2(2):fcaa154. Epub 2020 Sep 24.

Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane 4029, Australia.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is characterized by the degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons, yet an increasing number of studies in both mouse models and patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis suggest that altered metabolic homeostasis is also a feature of disease. Pre-clinical and clinical studies have shown that modulation of energy balance can be beneficial in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, the capacity to target specific metabolic pathways or mechanisms requires detailed understanding of metabolic dysregulation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Here, using the superoxide dismutase 1, glycine to alanine substitution at amino acid 93 (SOD1) mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we demonstrate that an increase in whole-body metabolism occurs at a time when glycolytic muscle exhibits an increased dependence on fatty acid oxidation. Using myotubes derived from muscle of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients, we also show that increased dependence on fatty acid oxidation is associated with increased whole-body energy expenditure. In the present study, increased fatty acid oxidation was associated with slower disease progression. However, within the patient cohort, there was considerable heterogeneity in whole-body metabolism and fuel oxidation profiles. Thus, future studies that decipher specific metabolic changes at an individual patient level are essential for the development of treatments that aim to target metabolic pathways in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa154DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7677608PMC
September 2020

Disorders of sleep and wakefulness in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): a systematic review.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener 2020 Nov 16:1-9. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Disorders of sleep and wakefulness are common among neurodegenerative diseases. While amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) predominately manifests as motor symptoms, there is emerging evidence that disruptions to sleep and wakefulness also occur. This systematic review aims to report the most common disorders of sleep and wakefulness in ALS. We conducted a qualitative systematic review as per PRISMA guidelines and searched literature assessing the association between disorders of sleep and wakefulness with ALS using the PubMed and Medline database. Overall, 50-63% of patients with ALS have poor sleep quality as reported using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Questionnaire (PSQI). A higher proportion of ALS patients are categorized as poor sleepers, however there is conflicting evidence as to whether patients with ALS are more likely to exhibit excessive daytime sleepiness. Of the studies that utilized polysomnography, all reported various degrees of impairment to sleep microstructure and architecture among ALS patients. In future, longitudinal clinical studies will be essential for establishing the significance of impaired sleep in ALS. Future studies are also needed to establish whether the self-reported measures of poor sleep and impairment to sleep architecture occurs as a direct consequence of the disease, whether they are an early manifestation of the disease, and/or if they contribute to the neurodegenerative process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21678421.2020.1844755DOI Listing
November 2020

Clinical and electrophysiological examination of pinch strength in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Muscle Nerve 2021 01 9;63(1):108-113. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Neurology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

Background: The split-hand concept has highlighted the preferential wasting of the thenar side of the hand in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Our objective is to re-explore pinch grip strength to assess whether it has the potential to be a practical biomarker of ALS.

Methods: We measured different pinch grip strengths (thumb, index, and fifth) using a pinch gauge from both hands of 54 ALS patients and correlated this with the Medical Research Council (MRC) score, the upper-limb component of the revised ALS Functional Rating Scale - Revised (ALSFRS-R) score, and compound muscle action potentials (CMAPs) that comprise the split-hand index.

Results: Pinch grip strength using any of the three fingers showed a positive correlation with its corresponding CMAP, MRC grading, and upper-limb ALSFRS-R score. The thumb pinch showed the strongest correlation with the split-hand index and MRC grading.

Conclusions: Pinch grip strength test using a simple gauge deserves further study as a potentially practical biomarker of ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mus.27111DOI Listing
January 2021

Genome-wide Meta-analysis Finds the ACSL5-ZDHHC6 Locus Is Associated with ALS and Links Weight Loss to the Disease Genetics.

Cell Rep 2020 Oct;33(4):108323

Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, King's College London, Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, London, UK; King's College Hospital, Bessemer Road, London SE5 9RS, UK.

We meta-analyze amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) genome-wide association study (GWAS) data of European and Chinese populations (84,694 individuals). We find an additional significant association between rs58854276 spanning ACSL5-ZDHHC6 with ALS (p = 8.3 × 10), with replication in an independent Australian cohort (1,502 individuals; p = 0.037). Moreover, B4GALNT1, G2E3-SCFD1, and TRIP11-ATXN3 are identified using a gene-based analysis. ACSL5 has been associated with rapid weight loss, as has another ALS-associated gene, GPX3. Weight loss is frequent in ALS patients and is associated with shorter survival. We investigate the effect of the ACSL5 and GPX3 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), using longitudinal body composition and weight data of 77 patients and 77 controls. In patients' fat-free mass, although not significant, we observe an effect in the expected direction (rs58854276: -2.1 ± 1.3 kg/A allele, p = 0.053; rs3828599: -1.0 ± 1.3 kg/A allele, p = 0.22). No effect was observed in controls. Our findings support the increasing interest in lipid metabolism in ALS and link the disease genetics to weight loss in patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108323DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610013PMC
October 2020

Monocytes and neutrophils are associated with clinical features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Brain Commun 2020 14;2(1):fcaa013. Epub 2020 Feb 14.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.

Immunity has emerged as a key player in neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with recent studies documenting aberrant immune changes in patients and animal models. A challenging aspect of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research is the heterogeneous nature of the disease. In this study, we investigate the associations between peripheral blood myeloid cell populations and clinical features characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Peripheral blood leukocytes from 23 healthy controls and 48 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were analysed to measure myeloid cell alterations. The proportion of monocytes (classical, intermediates and non-classical subpopulations) and neutrophils, as well as the expression of select surface markers, were quantitated using flow cytometry. Given the heterogeneous nature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multivariable linear analyses were performed to investigate associations between patients' myeloid profile and clinical features, such as the Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale, bulbar subscore of the Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale, change in Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale over disease duration and respiratory function. We demonstrate a shift in monocyte subpopulations in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with the ratio of classical to non-classical monocytes increased compared with healthy controls. In line with this, patients with greater disease severity, as determined by a lower Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale score, had reduced non-classical monocytes. Interestingly, patients with greater bulbar involvement had a reduction in the proportions of classical, intermediate and non-classical monocyte populations. We also revealed several notable associations between myeloid marker expression and clinical features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. CD16 expression on neutrophils was increased in patients with greater disease severity and a faster rate of disease progression, whereas HLA-DR expression on all monocyte populations was elevated in patients with greater respiratory impairment. This study demonstrates that patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with distinct clinical features have differential myeloid cell signatures. Identified cell populations and markers may be candidates for targeted mechanistic studies and immunomodulation therapies in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7530830PMC
February 2020

The spectrum of language impairments in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Cortex 2020 Nov 18;132:349-360. Epub 2020 Sep 18.

Neuropsychology Research Unit, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; Neurology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Heston, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia. Electronic address:

Language disorders are increasingly recognised in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), supporting the view of ALS as a multi-system disorder, impacting cognitive and motor function. However, the language impairments are heterogeneous and recent focus has been on determining the language profile across the ALS spectrum with little focus on spontaneous speech. The current study systematically investigated a wide range of language abilities in an unselected ALS sample (N = 22), including spontaneous speech. We analysed the ALS patients' performance as a group, compared to age-, education- and IQ-matched healthy controls (N = 21), and as a case series to identify dementia and specific language profiles. The ALS group was impaired on measures of spontaneous speech, word fluency and action naming. By contrast, object naming, semantic memory (object and actions), sentence comprehension and repetition (word and sentences) were comparable to healthy controls. In line with recent suggestions, our ALS patients' action naming (but not action semantic) deficit does not support the notion that action processing may be selectively impaired in ALS. The case series demonstrated that 14% of patients had probable dementia, 31% showed significant cognitive and/or language impairment and 55% were unimpaired, consistent with the spectrum of cognitive and language impairments reported in the literature. In addition, 36% of ALS patients produced significantly fewer words per minute on a spontaneous speech task than the control group, with this difference remaining when the ALS patients with frontotemporal dementia were excluded from the analysis. This pattern was observed across the ALS spectrum and in both limb and bulbar onset patients. The pattern of performance observed in the present study suggests that spontaneous speech is reduced across the ALS spectrum even in those with intact core language abilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2020.09.003DOI Listing
November 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

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

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

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 3050, Australia.

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

Reduced IκB-α Protein Levels in Peripheral Blood Cells of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis-A Possible Cause of Constitutive NF-κB Activation.

J Clin Med 2020 Aug 6;9(8). Epub 2020 Aug 6.

UQ Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia.

NF-κB signaling pathways are dysregulated in both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral blood cells in multiple sclerosis (MS), but the cause of this is unknown. We have recently reported that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of patients with MS have increased constitutive activation and translocation of the transcription factor NF-κB to the nucleus compared to healthy subjects. NF-κB can be activated through either canonical or non-canonical pathways. In the canonical pathway, activation of NF-κB is normally negatively regulated by the inhibitor IκB. We therefore hypothesized that the increased activation of NF-κB could be caused by reduced IκB-α in the cells of patients with MS, possibly due to increased activity of the IκB kinase (IKK) complex, which regulates IκB-α. Alternatively, changes to the activity of key molecules in the non-canonical pathway, such as IKKα, could also lead to increased NF-κB activation. We therefore used Western blotting to detect IκB-α levels and ELISA to investigate NF-κB DNA binding activity and phosphorylation of IKKα and IKKβ in samples from PBMC of MS patients and controls. The level of full-length IκB-α protein in the cytosolic fraction of PBMC of MS patients was significantly reduced compared to healthy subjects, with significantly more evidence of multiple low molecular weight putative degradation products of IκB-α present in MS patients compared to healthy subjects. Conversely, the level of NF-κB DNA binding activity was increased in whole cell lysates from MS patients. Both IKKα and IKKβ showed increased overall activity in MS compared to healthy subjects, although not all of the MS patients showed increased activity compared to the healthy subjects, suggesting that there may be several different mechanisms underlying the constitutive activation of NF-κB in MS. Taken together, these findings suggest that there may be multiple points at which the NF-κB pathway is dysregulated in MS and that decreased levels of the full-length IκB-α protein are a major component in this.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9082534DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7465818PMC
August 2020

Serial MRI studies over 12 months using manual and atlas-based region of interest in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

BMC Med Imaging 2020 08 3;20(1):90. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

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

Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of upper and lower motor neurons. There is a need for an imaging biomarker to track disease progression. Previously, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown loss of grey and white matter in the brain of patients with ALS compared to controls. We performed serial diffusion tractography imaging (DTI) study of patients with ALS looking for changes over time.

Methods: On all subjects (n = 15), we performed three MRI studies at 6 month intervals. DTI changes were assessed with tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and region of interest (ROI) studies. Cortic-spinal tract (CST) was selected for our ROI at the upper level; the posterior limb of internal capsule (PLIC), and a lower level in the pons.

Results: There was no significant change in DTI measures over 12 months of observation. Better correlation of manual and atlas-based ROI methods was found in the posterior limb of the internal capsule than the pons.

Conclusion: While previous DTI studies showed significant differences between ALS subjects and controls, within individual subjects there is little evidence of progression over 12 months. This suggests that DTI is not a suitable biomarker to assess disease progression in ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12880-020-00489-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7397614PMC
August 2020

Progression and survival of patients with motor neuron disease relative to their fecal microbiota.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener 2020 11 9;21(7-8):549-562. Epub 2020 Jul 9.

Wesley Medical Research, The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Gut microbiota studies have been well-investigated for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, however, fewer studies have comprehensively examined the gut microbiome in Motor Neuron Disease (MND), with none examining its impact on disease prognosis. Here, we investigate MND prognosis and the fecal microbiota, using 16S rRNA case-control data from 100 individuals with extensive medical histories and metabolic measurements. We contrast the composition and diversity of fecal microbiome signatures from 49 MND and 51 healthy controls by combining current gold-standard 16S microbiome pipelines. Using stringent quality control thresholds, we conducted qualitative assessment approaches including; direct comparison of taxa, PICRUSt2 predicted metagenomics, Shannon and Chao1-index and Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio. We show that the fecal microbiome of patients with MND is not significantly different from that of healthy controls that were matched by age, sex, and BMI, however there are distinct differences in Beta-diversity in some patients with MND. Weight, BMI, and metabolic and clinical features of disease in patients with MND were not related to the composition of their fecal microbiome, however, we observe a greater risk for earlier death in patients with MND with increased richness and diversity of the microbiome, and in those with greater Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio. This was independent of anthropometric, metabolic, or clinical features of disease, and warrants support for further gut microbiota studies in MND. Given the disease heterogeneity in MND, and complexity of the gut microbiota, large studies are necessary to determine the detailed role of the gut microbiota and MND prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21678421.2020.1772825DOI Listing
November 2020

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

Mult Scler 2020 Jul 8:1352458520936823. Epub 2020 Jul 8.

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

Background: The magnetic resonance imaging in multiple sclerosis (MAGNIMS) score combines relapses and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesions to predict disability outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) treated with interferon-β.

Objective: To validate the MAGNIMS score and extend to other disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). To examine the prognostic value of gadolinium contrast-enhancing (Gd+) lesions.

Methods: This RRMS MSBase cohort study ( = 2293) used a Cox model to examine the prognostic value of relapses, MRI activity and the MAGNIMS score for disability worsening during treatment with interferon-β and three other DMTs.

Results: Three new T2 lesions (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.60,  = 0.028) or two relapses (HR = 2.24,  = 0.002) on interferon-β (for 12 months) were predictive of disability worsening over 4 years. MAGNIMS score = 2 (1 relapse and ⩾3 T2 lesions or ⩾2 relapses) was associated with a greater risk of disability worsening on interferon-β (HR = 2.0,  = 0.001). In pooled cohort of four DMTs, similar associations were seen (MAGNIMS score = 2: HR = 1.72,  = 0.001). Secondary analyses demonstrated that the addition of Gd+ to the MAGNIMS did not materially improve its prediction of disability worsening.

Conclusion: We have validated the MAGNIMS score in RRMS and extended its application to three other DMTs: 1 relapse and ⩾3 T2 lesions or ⩾2 relapses predicted worsening of disability. Contrast-enhancing lesions did not substantially improve the prognostic score.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520936823DOI Listing
July 2020

Relapse Patterns in NMOSD: Evidence for Earlier Occurrence of Optic Neuritis and Possible Seasonal Variation.

Front Neurol 2020 16;11:537. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Southport, QLD, Australia.

Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) show overlap in their clinical features. We performed an analysis of relapses with the aim of determining differences between the two conditions. Cases of NMOSD and age- and sex-matched MS controls were collected from across Australia and New Zealand. Demographic and clinical information, including relapse histories, were recorded using a standard questionnaire. There were 75 cases of NMOSD and 101 MS controls. There were 328 relapses in the NMOSD cases and 375 in MS controls. Spinal cord and optic neuritis attacks were the most common relapses in both NMOSD and MS. Optic neuritis ( < 0.001) and area postrema relapses ( = 0.002) were more common in NMOSD and other brainstem attacks were more common in MS ( < 0.001). Prior to age 30 years, attacks of optic neuritis were more common in NMOSD than transverse myelitis. After 30 this pattern was reversed. Relapses in NMOSD were more likely to be treated with acute immunotherapies and were less likely to recover completely. Analysis by month of relapse in NMOSD showed a trend toward reduced risk of relapse in February to April compared to a peak in November to January ( = 0.065). Optic neuritis and transverse myelitis are the most common types of relapse in NMOSD and MS. Optic neuritis tends to occur more frequently in NMOSD prior to the age of 30, with transverse myelitis being more common thereafter. Relapses in NMOSD were more severe. A seasonal bias for relapses in spring-summer may exist in NMOSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.00537DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7308484PMC
June 2020

What do we know about the variability in survival of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

Expert Rev Neurother 2020 09 7;20(9):921-941. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

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

Introduction: ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. However, patients show variability in the length of survival after symptom onset. Understanding the mechanisms of long survival could lead to possible avenues for therapy.

Areas Covered: This review surveys the reported length of survival in ALS, the clinical features that predict survival in individual patients, and possible factors, particularly genetic factors, that could cause short or long survival. The authors also speculate on possible mechanisms.

Expert Opinion: a small number of known factors can explain some variability in ALS survival. However, other disease-modifying factors likely exist. Factors that alter motor neurone vulnerability and immune, metabolic, and muscle function could affect survival by modulating the disease process. Knowing these factors could lead to interventions to change the course of the disease. The authors suggest a broad approach is needed to quantify the proportion of variation survival attributable to genetic and non-genetic factors and to identify and estimate the effect size of specific factors. Studies of this nature could not only identify novel avenues for therapeutic research but also play an important role in clinical trial design and personalized medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737175.2020.1785873DOI Listing
September 2020

A missense mutation in the MLKL brace region promotes lethal neonatal inflammation and hematopoietic dysfunction.

Nat Commun 2020 06 19;11(1):3150. Epub 2020 Jun 19.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, VIC, 3052, Australia.

MLKL is the essential effector of necroptosis, a form of programmed lytic cell death. We have isolated a mouse strain with a single missense mutation, Mlkl, that alters the two-helix 'brace' that connects the killer four-helix bundle and regulatory pseudokinase domains. This confers constitutive, RIPK3 independent killing activity to MLKL. Homozygous mutant mice develop lethal postnatal inflammation of the salivary glands and mediastinum. The normal embryonic development of Mlkl homozygotes until birth, and the absence of any overt phenotype in heterozygotes provides important in vivo precedent for the capacity of cells to clear activated MLKL. These observations offer an important insight into the potential disease-modulating roles of three common human MLKL polymorphisms that encode amino acid substitutions within or adjacent to the brace region. Compound heterozygosity of these variants is found at up to 12-fold the expected frequency in patients that suffer from a pediatric autoinflammatory disease, chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16819-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7305203PMC
June 2020

Levels of clusterin, CD5L, ficolin-3, and gelsolin in ALS patients and controls.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener 2020 11 19;21(7-8):631-634. Epub 2020 Jun 19.

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

In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, there is a need for biomarkers to distinguish patients from controls, to follow disease progression and to provide information about the pathogenesis of disease. In a previous mass spectrometry study that searched for potential proteins of interest, we identified clusterin, CD5L, ficolin-3, and gelsolin as molecules that differed in abundance between ALS patients and controls, with a greater difference in patients with cognitive impairment. Here, we have measured levels of these molecules in plasma from a separate cohort of ALS patients and controls. The plasma was depleted of abundant plasma proteins. We confirmed our previous findings that levels of clusterin are decreased and ficolin-3 are increased in ALS patients compared to controls. In this study, we found that levels of CD5L were increased in patients with ALS and levels correlated with survival. We found that levels of gelsolin were modestly increased in ALS compared to controls whereas in our previous study these were decreased, especially in patients with cognitive impairment who were not included in this study. We suggest that clusterin and ficolin-3 deserve further study as potential ALS biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21678421.2020.1779303DOI Listing
November 2020

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

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

Mult Scler 2021 Mar 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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520921087DOI Listing
March 2021

Pregnancy outcomes and postpartum relapse rates in women with RRMS treated with alemtuzumab in the phase 2 and 3 clinical development program over 16 years.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Aug 6;43:102146. Epub 2020 May 6.

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Background: Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is frequently diagnosed in women of reproductive age. Because the use of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) early in the disease course is increasing, it is important to evaluate the safety of DMTs in pregnant women and their developing fetuses. Alemtuzumab, approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS, is administered as 2 courses of 12 mg/day on 5 consecutive days at baseline and on 3 consecutive days 12 months later. Alemtuzumab is eliminated from the body within approximately 30 days after administration; it is recommended that women of childbearing potential use effective contraception during and for 4 months after treatment. Here, we report pregnancy outcomes in alemtuzumab-treated women from the phase 2 and 3 clinical development program over 16 years.

Methods: We followed 972 women who had alemtuzumab in phase 2 (CAMMS223 [NCT00050778]) and phase 3 (CARE-MS I [NCT00530348], CARE-MS II [NCT00548405]) studies, and/or in 2 consecutive extension studies (NCT00930553; NCT02255656 [TOPAZ]). In the extension studies, patients could receive additional alemtuzumab (12 mg/day on 3 days; ≥12 months apart) as needed for disease activity. All women who received alemtuzumab in the clinical development program were included. Pregnant or lactating patients were followed up for safety.

Results: As of November 26, 2018, 264 pregnancies occurred in 160 alemtuzumab-treated women, with a mean age at conception of 32.6 years, and mean time from last alemtuzumab dose to conception of 35.9 months. Of the 264 pregnancies, 233 (88%) were completed, 11 (4%) were ongoing, and 20 (8%) had unknown outcomes; 16 (6%) conceptions occurred within 4 months, and 5 conceptions within 1 month of the last alemtuzumab dose. Of the 233 completed pregnancies with known outcomes, there were 155 (67%) live births with no congenital abnormalities or birth defects, 52 (22%) spontaneous abortions, 25 (11%) elective abortions, and 1 (0.4%) stillbirth. Maternal age was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in alemtuzumab-treated patients (<35 years: 15%; ≥35 years: 37%; relative risk [RR], 2.46 [95% CI: 1.53-3.95], p=0.0002). Risk of spontaneous abortion was not increased in patients becoming pregnant ≤4 months versus >4 months since alemtuzumab exposure (19% vs 23%; RR, 1.08 [95% CI: 0.41-2.85], p=0.88). Autoimmune thyroid adverse events did not increase risk for spontaneous abortion (patients with vs without thyroid adverse events, 23.7% vs 21.3%; RR, 1.11 [95% CI: 0.69-1.80], p=0.75). Annualized relapse rate was 0.10 and 0.12 in the 2 years prior to pregnancy (post alemtuzumab), and was 0.22, 0.12, and 0.12 in each of the first 3 years postpartum, respectively.

Conclusion: Normal live births were the most common outcome in women exposed to alemtuzumab 12 mg or 24 mg in clinical studies. Spontaneous abortion rate in alemtuzumab-treated patients was comparable with rates in the general population and treatment-naive MS patients, and was not increased in women with pregnancy onset within 4 months of alemtuzumab exposure. There was a minimal increase in postpartum relapses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102146DOI Listing
August 2020

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy in Myasthenic Crisis.

J Clin Neuromuscul Dis 2020 Jun;21(4):244-245

Department of Neurology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CND.0000000000000284DOI Listing
June 2020

Early clinical markers of aggressive multiple sclerosis.

Brain 2020 05;143(5):1400-1413

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

Patients with the 'aggressive' form of multiple sclerosis accrue disability at an accelerated rate, typically reaching Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) ≥ 6 within 10 years of symptom onset. Several clinicodemographic factors have been associated with aggressive multiple sclerosis, but less research has focused on clinical markers that are present in the first year of disease. The development of early predictive models of aggressive multiple sclerosis is essential to optimize treatment in this multiple sclerosis subtype. We evaluated whether patients who will develop aggressive multiple sclerosis can be identified based on early clinical markers. We then replicated this analysis in an independent cohort. Patient data were obtained from the MSBase observational study. Inclusion criteria were (i) first recorded disability score (EDSS) within 12 months of symptom onset; (ii) at least two recorded EDSS scores; and (iii) at least 10 years of observation time, based on time of last recorded EDSS score. Patients were classified as having 'aggressive multiple sclerosis' if all of the following criteria were met: (i) EDSS ≥ 6 reached within 10 years of symptom onset; (ii) EDSS ≥ 6 confirmed and sustained over ≥6 months; and (iii) EDSS ≥ 6 sustained until the end of follow-up. Clinical predictors included patient variables (sex, age at onset, baseline EDSS, disease duration at first visit) and recorded relapses in the first 12 months since disease onset (count, pyramidal signs, bowel-bladder symptoms, cerebellar signs, incomplete relapse recovery, steroid administration, hospitalization). Predictors were evaluated using Bayesian model averaging. Independent validation was performed using data from the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry. Of the 2403 patients identified, 145 were classified as having aggressive multiple sclerosis (6%). Bayesian model averaging identified three statistical predictors: age > 35 at symptom onset, EDSS ≥ 3 in the first year, and the presence of pyramidal signs in the first year. This model significantly predicted aggressive multiple sclerosis [area under the curve (AUC) = 0.80, 95% confidence intervals (CIs): 0.75, 0.84, positive predictive value = 0.15, negative predictive value = 0.98]. The presence of all three signs was strongly predictive, with 32% of such patients meeting aggressive disease criteria. The absence of all three signs was associated with a 1.4% risk. Of the 556 eligible patients in the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry cohort, 34 (6%) met criteria for aggressive multiple sclerosis. The combination of all three signs was also predictive in this cohort (AUC = 0.75, 95% CIs: 0.66, 0.84, positive predictive value = 0.15, negative predictive value = 0.97). Taken together, these findings suggest that older age at symptom onset, greater disability during the first year, and pyramidal signs in the first year are early indicators of aggressive multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa081DOI Listing
May 2020

The Peripheral Immune System and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Front Neurol 2020 21;11:279. Epub 2020 Apr 21.

Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe neurodegenerative disease that is defined by loss of upper and lower motor neurons, associated with accumulation of protein aggregates in cells. There is also pathology in extra-motor areas of the brain, Possible causes of cell death include failure to deal with the aggregated proteins, glutamate toxicity and mitochondrial failure. ALS also involves abnormalities of metabolism and the immune system, including neuroinflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Strikingly, there are also abnormalities of the peripheral immune system, with alterations of T lymphocytes, monocytes, complement and cytokines in the peripheral blood of patients with ALS. The precise contribution of the peripheral immune system in ALS pathogenesis is an active area of research. Although some trials of immunomodulatory agents have been negative, there is strong preclinical evidence of benefit from immune modulation and further trials are currently underway. Here, we review the emerging evidence implicating peripheral immune alterations contributing to ALS, and their potential as future therapeutic targets for clinical intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.00279DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186478PMC
April 2020

Mutations in heat shock protein beta-1 (HSPB1) are associated with a range of clinical phenotypes related to different patterns of motor neuron dysfunction: A case series.

J Neurol Sci 2020 06 27;413:116809. Epub 2020 Mar 27.

Department of Neurology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Heat shock protein beta-1 (HSPB1) is a ubiquitously expressed molecular chaperone that is important in protecting cells against cellular injury. Mutations in this protein are known to cause autosomal dominant hereditary distal axonal neuropathies, including Charcot Marie Tooth disease type 2F (CMT2F) and distal hereditary motor neuropathy (dHMN). However, patients with HSPB1 mutations have also been described with upper motor neuron signs. We present five patients with mutations in HSPB1 who presented with a range of clinical phenotypes related to different patterns of motor neuron dysfunction. Three of these mutations have not been previously reported.

Methods: Patients were seen at our neuromuscular or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinics. Gene sequencing was carried out as part of diagnostic investigations. Detailed clinical and electrophysiologic data was collected.

Results: Five patients had variants of HSPB1. Three patients had a hereditary length-dependent sensori-motor axonal neuropathy consistent with Charcot Marie Tooth type 2 (CMT2); two of these patients carried novel mutations in the C-terminal region (p.Glu186* and p.Pro170Thr). One patient had the clinical picture of ALS and a novel missense mutation (p.Arg27Leu) in the N-terminal region. Another patient had the phenotype of hereditary spastic paraparesis (HSP) associated with a missense mutation (p.Gly84Arg) already described in families with CMT or dHMN.

Conclusion: This study describes three novel mutations of HSPB1 and describes two patients with upper motor neurone signs associated with HSPB1 mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2020.116809DOI Listing
June 2020

The potential interplay between energy metabolism and innate complement activation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

FASEB J 2020 06 19;34(6):7225-7233. Epub 2020 Apr 19.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal and rapidly progressing motor neuron disease without effective treatment. Although the precise mechanisms leading to ALS are yet to be determined, there is now increasing evidence implicating the defective energy metabolism and components of the innate immune complement system in the onset and progression of its motor phenotypes. This review will survey the mechanisms by which the energy metabolism and the complement system are altered during the disease progression of ALS and how it can contribute to disease. Furthermore, it will also examine how complement activation can modify the energy metabolism in metabolic disorders, in order to highlight how the complement system and energy metabolism may be linked in ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201901781DOI Listing
June 2020

Human brain neurons express a novel splice variant of excitatory amino acid transporter 5 (hEAAT5v).

J Comp Neurol 2020 Dec 3;528(17):3134-3142. Epub 2020 Apr 3.

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

Excitatory amino acid transporter 5 (EAAT5) is a protein that is known to be alternately spliced and to be abundantly expressed in the retina by populations of neurons including photoreceptors and bipolar cells. EAAT5 acts as a slow glutamate transporter and also as glutamate-gated chloride channel, the chloride conductance being large enough for EAAT5 to serve functionally as an "inhibitory" glutamate receptor. However, there has been a long-standing view that the classically spliced form of EAAT5 is not abundant or widespread in the brain and so it has not been extensively investigated in the literature. We recently identified a human-specific splicing form of EAAT5 that was not expressed by rodents but was shown to be a functional glutamate transporter. We have examined the expression of this form of EAAT5, hEAAT5v at the mRNA, and protein level in human brain, and show that populations of human cortical pyramidal neurons and cerebellar Purkinje cells show significant expression of hEAAT5v. Accordingly, we infer that EAAT5 may well be a player in modulating neuronal function in the human brain and propose that its localization in both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons could be compatible with a role in influencing intracellular chloride and thereby neuronal parameters such as membrane potential rather than acting as a presynaptic glutamate transporter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.24907DOI Listing
December 2020

Significant out-of-sample classification from methylation profile scoring for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

NPJ Genom Med 2020 27;5:10. Epub 2020 Feb 27.

1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072 Australia.

We conducted DNA methylation association analyses using Illumina 450K data from whole blood for an Australian amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) case-control cohort (782 cases and 613 controls). Analyses used mixed linear models as implemented in the OSCA software. We found a significantly higher proportion of neutrophils in cases compared to controls which replicated in an independent cohort from the Netherlands (1159 cases and 637 controls). The OSCA MOMENT linear mixed model has been shown in simulations to best account for confounders. When combined in a methylation profile score, the 25 most-associated probes identified by MOMENT significantly classified case-control status in the Netherlands sample (area under the curve, AUC = 0.65, CI = [0.62-0.68],  = 8.3 × 10). The maximum AUC achieved was 0.69 (CI = [0.66-0.71],  = 4.3 × 10) when cell-type proportion was included in the predictor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41525-020-0118-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7046630PMC
February 2020

The clinical profile of NMOSD in Australia and New Zealand.

J Neurol 2020 May 31;267(5):1431-1443. Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Gold Coast, QLD, 4222, Australia.

Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) are an inflammation of the central nervous system associated with autoantibodies to aquaporin-4. We have undertaken a clinic-based survey of NMOSD in the Australia and New Zealand populations with the aim of characterising the clinical features and establishing the value of recently revised diagnostic criteria. Cases of possible NMOSD and age and sex-matched controls with multiple sclerosis (MS) were referred from centres across Australia and New Zealand. Cases were classified as NMOSD if they met the 2015 IPND criteria and remained as suspected NMOSD if they did not. Clinical and paraclinical data were compared across the three groups. NMOSD was confirmed in 75 cases and 89 had suspected NMOSD. There were 101 controls with MS. Age at onset, relapse rates and EDSS scores were significantly higher in NMOSD than in MS. Lesions and symptoms referable to the optic nerve were more common in NMOSD whereas brainstem, cerebellar and cerebral lesions were more common in MS. Longitudinally extensive spinal cord lesions were seen in 48/71 (68%) of cases with NMOSD. Elevations of CSF, white cell count and protein were more common in NMOSD. We have confirmed a clinical pattern of NMOSD that has been seen in several geographical regions. We have demonstrated the clinical utility of the current diagnostic criteria. Distinct patterns of disease are evident in NMOSD and MS, but there remains a large number of patients with NMOSD-like features who do not meet the current diagnostic criteria for NMOSD and remain a diagnostic challenge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-020-09716-4DOI Listing
May 2020

Cylindrical spirals in two families: Clinical and genetic investigations.

Neuromuscul Disord 2020 02 25;30(2):151-158. Epub 2019 Dec 25.

Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, QEII Medical Centre, Australia. Electronic address:

Cylindrical spirals are a rare ultrastructural finding on muscle biopsy, with fewer than 20 reported cases since its first description in 1979. These structures are sometimes observed with tubular aggregates and are thought to comprise longitudinal sarcoplasmic reticulum. While mutations in genes encoding key components of Ca handling (ORAI1 and STIM1) underlie tubular aggregate myopathy, no causative genes have been associated with cylindrical spirals. Here we describe two families with cylindrical spirals on muscle biopsy with a suspected genetic cause. In one family we identified a known truncating variant in EBF3, previously associated with a neurodevelopmental disorder. The affected individuals in this family present with clinical features overlapping with those described for EBF3 disease. An isolated proband in the second family harbours bi-allelic truncating variants in TTN and her clinical course and other features on biopsy are highly concordant for titinopathy. From experimental studies, EBF3 is known to be involved in Ca regulation in muscle, thus EBF3 dysregulation may represent a novel mechanism of impaired Ca handling leading to cylindrical spirals. Additional cases of EBF3 disease or titinopathy with cylindrical spirals need to be identified to support the involvement of these genes in the pathogenesis of cylindrical spirals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2019.12.006DOI Listing
February 2020