Publications by authors named "Vilija Jokubaitis"

58 Publications

Treatment of Women with Multiple Sclerosis Planning Pregnancy.

Curr Treat Options Neurol 2021 30;23(4):11. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Department of Neurology, St. Josef Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

Purpose Of Review: We review data available for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) before, during, and after pregnancy. We present recent data on disease-modifying therapies (DMT) before/during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, with treatment recommendations.

Recent Findings: Observational data support the safety of injectable DMTs (glatiramer acetate, interferon-beta) for use in pregnancy, while some oral DMTs might be associated with fetal risk. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) before pregnancy such as rituximab or natalizumab likely do not pose significant fetal risks, but can cross the placenta with neonatal hematological abnormalities if given in the second trimester or later. Breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk of postpartum relapses. Finally, injectables and mAbs likely have low transfer into breastmilk.

Summary: Many women with MS do not require DMTs during pregnancy, although injectables could be continued. For women with highly active MS, cell-depleting therapies could be given before conception, or natalizumab could be continued through pregnancy, with monitoring of the fetus. Women should be encouraged to breastfeed, and those with higher relapse risk could consider injectables or mAbs while breastfeeding. Further data on safety of DMTs around pregnancy are needed. Maximizing function through non-pharmacologic approaches is complementary to DMTs. Special considerations for pregnancy and DMTs during the COVID-19 pandemic are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11940-021-00666-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8008016PMC
March 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

Regarding: Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors α7 and α9 modify tobacco smoke risk for multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2020 Dec 8:1352458520969941. Epub 2020 Dec 8.

Preventive Neurology Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520969941DOI Listing
December 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

Association of Pregnancy With the Onset of Clinically Isolated Syndrome.

JAMA Neurol 2020 Sep 14. Epub 2020 Sep 14.

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
September 2020

MS, pregnancy and COVID-19.

Mult Scler 2020 09 17;26(10):1137-1146. Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Preventive Neurology Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK/Department of Neurology, Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK.

Concerns regarding infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leading to COVID-19 are particularly marked for pregnant women with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). There is currently a relative paucity of information to guide advice given to and the clinical management of these individuals. Much of the limited available data around COVID-19 and pregnancy derives from the obstetric literature, and as such, neurologists may not be familiar with the general principles underlying current advice. In this article, we discuss the impact of potential infection on the pregnant woman, the impact on her baby, the impact of the current pandemic on antenatal care, and the interaction between COVID-19, MS and pregnancy. This review provides a framework for neurologists to use to guide the individualised advice given to both pregnant women with MS, and those women with MS who are considering pregnancy. This includes evidence derived from previous novel coronavirus infections, and emerging evidence from the current pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520949152DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7493203PMC
September 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

Sex effects across the lifespan in women with multiple sclerosis.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2020 1;13:1756286420936166. Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Department of Neurology, St. Josef Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating central nervous system disorder that is more common in women, with onset often during reproductive years. The female:male sex ratio of MS rose in several regions over the last century, suggesting a possible sex by environmental interaction increasing MS risk in women. Since many with MS are in their childbearing years, family planning, including contraceptive and disease-modifying therapy (DMT) counselling, are important aspects of MS care in women. While some DMTs are likely harmful to the developing fetus, others can be used shortly before or until pregnancy is confirmed. Overall, pregnancy decreases risk of MS relapses, whereas relapse risk may increase postpartum, although pregnancy does not appear to be harmful for long-term prognosis of MS. However, ovarian aging may contribute to disability progression in women with MS. Here, we review sex effects across the lifespan in women with MS, including the effect of sex on MS susceptibility, effects of pregnancy on MS disease activity, and management strategies around pregnancy, including risks associated with DMT use before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. We also review reproductive aging and sexual dysfunction in women with MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756286420936166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7331774PMC
July 2020

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

Mult Scler 2021 Apr 8;27(5):695-705. 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
April 2021

MSCOVID19: Using social media to achieve rapid dissemination of health information.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Oct 24;45:102338. Epub 2020 Jun 24.

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

Background And Objective: The global COVID-19 pandemic creates an obvious acute health care resourcing and response problem. The different timing of pandemic peak in geographically distinct locations creates a short window of response opportunity. Rapid dissemination of medical information from early affected areas to later ones is therefore crucial to optimise planning. Formulating the best system response for at-risk patient populations is especially complex. People with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) are exposed to long-term immunosuppressive disease modifying treatments (DMTs) and, in theory, could be at increased risk of contracting the virus and developing complications. Social media, such as Twitter, can provide a global platform to rapidly share information and individual experiences.

Methods And Results: This report summarizes the case experience of pwMS with COVID-19 infection in the first month of the pandemic as reported on Twitter using the #MSCOVID19 hashtag. 26 individual cases of COVID-19 in pwMS were reported from Europe and the United States of America. The cases involved a combination of relapsing and progressive MS phenotypes treated with a range of DMT (5 anti CD20 therapy, 4 cladribine, 4 fingolimod, 4 injectables, 3 alemtuzumab, 2 dimethyl fumarate, 2 untreated, 1 teriflunomide, 1 natalizumab). The cases shared present the earliest reported data on outcomes of COVID-19 infection in pwMS. Whilst limited, the cautiously reassuring nature of these early cases assisted in clinical management by allowing neurologists to continuously reassess their approach to DMT management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102338DOI Listing
October 2020

Increased risk of cervical dysplasia in females with autoimmune conditions-Results from an Australia database linkage study.

PLoS One 2020 18;15(6):e0234813. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Department of Neurology, MS and Neuroimmunology Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Autoimmune conditions (AICs) and/or their treatment may alter risk of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and females with AICs are therefore at an increased risk of cervical dysplasia. However, inclusion of these at-risk populations in cervical cancer screening and HPV-vaccination guidelines, are mostly lacking. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of cervical dysplasia in a wide range of AICs and compare that to HIV and immunocompetent controls to support the optimisation of cervical cancer preventive health measures.

Methods: Data linkage was used to match cervical screening episodes to emergency department records of females with AICs or HIV to immunocompetent controls over a 14-year period. The primary outcome was histologically confirmed high-grade cervical disease. Results, measured as rates by cytology and histology classification per 1,000 females screened, were analysed per disease group, and intergroup comparisons were performed.

Results: Females with inflammatory bowel disease (2,683), psoriatic and enteropathic arthropathies (1,848), multiple sclerosis (MS) (1,426), rheumatoid arthritis (1,246), systemic lupus erythematosus and/or mixed connective tissue disease (SLE/MCTD) (702), HIV (44), and 985,383 immunocompetent controls were included. SLE/MCTD and HIV groups had greater rates of high-grade histological and cytological abnormalities compared to controls. Increased rates of low-grade cytological abnormalities were detected in all females with AICs, with the exception of the MS group.

Conclusions: Females with SLE/MCTD or HIV have increased rates of high-grade cervical abnormalities. The increased low-grade dysplasia rate seen in most females with AICs is consistent with increased HPV infection. These findings support expansion of cervical cancer preventative programs to include these at-risk females.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234813PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7302686PMC
August 2020

Change in pregnancy-associated multiple sclerosis relapse rates over time: a meta-analysis.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Sep 30;44:102241. Epub 2020 May 30.

Preventive Neurology Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University London; Department of Neurology, Royal London Hospital, BartsHealth NHS Trust; Blizard Institute, QMUL.

Background: Women with MS are advised that relapse rates fall during pregnancy and rebound post-partum. This advice originates from 1998; smaller, more recent, studies have not been previously pooled.

Methods: All studies published since 1998 providing raw relapse data were considered for inclusion. Single arm meta-analysis was performed using a restricted maximum likelihood random effects model with inverse variance; secondary subgroup analysis and meta regression were then performed. Annualised relapse rates (ARR), or relapse numbers/rates suitable for conversion into ARR during pregnancy and the post-partum period were included. Secondary subgroup analysis examined year of data collection, DMT exposure, breastfeeding and data source.

Results: 7034 pregnancies from 6430 women were included. ARR fell from 0.57 (95%CI 0.45-0.70) pre-pregnancy to 0.36 (0.28-0.44), 0.29 (0.21-0.36) and 0.16 (0.11-0.21) during trimesters 1,2, and 3, with a post-partum rebound (ARR 0.85, 95%CI 0.70-1.00). ARR reduced pre-pregnancy and post-partum over time (p<0.001). Relapse rates were lower in claims databases than elsewhere.

Conclusions: Despite high heterogeneity, we confirm the historic assumption that ARR reduces during pregnancy, and demonstrate an overall reduction in ARR over time. Studies using data originating from claims databases demonstrated a lower relapse rate at all time points, which has not previously been demonstrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102241DOI Listing
September 2020

Multiple sclerosis risk variants regulate gene expression in innate and adaptive immune cells.

Life Sci Alliance 2020 07 9;3(7). Epub 2020 Jun 9.

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

At least 200 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) risk. A key function that could mediate SNP-encoded MS risk is their regulatory effects on gene expression. We performed microarrays using RNA extracted from purified immune cell types from 73 untreated MS cases and 97 healthy controls and then performed Cis expression quantitative trait loci mapping studies using additive linear models. We describe MS risk expression quantitative trait loci associations for 129 distinct genes. By extending these models to include an interaction term between genotype and phenotype, we identify MS risk SNPs with opposing effects on gene expression in cases compared with controls, namely, rs2256814 in CD4 cells (q = 0.05) and rs12087340 in monocyte cells (q = 0.04). The rs703842 SNP was also associated with a differential effect size on the expression of the gene in CD8 cells of MS cases relative to controls (q = 0.03). Our study provides a detailed map of MS risk loci that function by regulating gene expression in cell types relevant to MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202000650DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7283543PMC
July 2020

Family planning is the second most relevant factor for treatment decisions after disease activity - Commentary.

Mult Scler 2020 05 21;26(6):644. Epub 2020 Feb 21.

Preventive Neurology Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520907902DOI Listing
May 2020

OnabotulinumtoxinA treatment for MS-tremor modifies fMRI tremor response in central sensory-motor integration areas.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 May 5;40:101984. Epub 2020 Feb 5.

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; The Bionics Institute, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Australia.

Background: Treatment of tremor in MS is an unmet need. OnabotulinumtoxinA (BoNT-A) has shown promising results; however, little is known regarding its effects on the brain. The clinical presentation of tremor MS is shown to depend on subcortical neural damage and cortical neural plasticity. This study aimed to identify effects of onabotulinumtoxinA (BoNT-A) on brain activation in MS and upper-limb tremor using functional MRI.

Methods: Forty-three MS participants with tremor were randomized to receive intramuscular injections of placebo (n = 22) or BoNT-A (n = 21). Tremor was quantified using the Bain score (0-10) for severity, handwriting and Archimedes drawing at baseline, 6 weeks and 12 weeks. Functional MRI activation within two previously identified clusters, ipsilateral inferior parietal cortex (IPL) and premotor/supplementary motor cortex (SMC) of compensatory activity, was measured at baseline and 6 weeks.

Results: Treatment with BoNT-A resulted in improved handwriting tremor at 6 weeks (p = 0.049) and 12 weeks (p = 0.014), and tremor severity -0.79 (p = 0.007) at 12 weeks. Furthermore, the patients that received BoNT-A showed a reduction in activation within the IPL (p = 0.034), but not in the SMC. The change in IPL activation correlated with the reduction in tremor severity from baseline to 12 weeks (β = 0.608; p = 0.015) in the BoNT-A group. No tremor and fMRI changes were seen in the placebo treated group.

Conclusion: We have shown that reduction in MS-tremor severity after intramuscular injection with BoNT-A is associated with changes in brain activity in sensorimotor integration regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.101984DOI Listing
May 2020

Pregnancy and multiple sclerosis: Clinical effects across the lifespan.

Autoimmun Rev 2019 Oct 8;18(10):102360. Epub 2019 Aug 8.

Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia; Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia; Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Neurology, MSNI Service, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is commonly diagnosed in women of childbearing age. Having a greater understanding of the effects of pregnancy on the course of MS will lead to improved family-planning counselling for women. We found well-established evidence for a protective effect of pregnancy on relapse occurrence in historical cohorts. More recent studies suggest that the protective effect of pregnancy against relapse may be lost in those women with more active disease treated with high efficacy therapies. Furthermore, a strong body of evidence suggests that gravidity after diagnosis of MS does not lead to worse long-term outcomes. More contentious however, is whether pregnancy can delay a first episode of demyelination or a confirmed diagnosis of MS. This review provides a detailed analysis of the literature relating to the clinical effects of pregnancy on MS outcomes across a woman's reproductive lifespan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2019.102360DOI Listing
October 2019

Risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: A longitudinal study.

Mult Scler 2020 01 9;26(1):79-90. Epub 2019 Aug 9.

CORe, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/L4 Centre, Melbourne Brain Centre at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Background: The risk factors for conversion from relapsing-remitting to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis remain highly contested.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the demographic, clinical and paraclinical features that influence the risk of conversion to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Patients with adult-onset relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and at least four recorded disability scores were selected from MSBase, a global observational cohort. The risk of conversion to objectively defined secondary progressive multiple sclerosis was evaluated at multiple time points per patient using multivariable marginal Cox regression models. Sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: A total of 15,717 patients were included in the primary analysis. Older age (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.02,  < 0.001), longer disease duration (HR = 1.01,  = 0.038), a higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score (HR = 1.30,  < 0.001), more rapid disability trajectory (HR = 2.82,  < 0.001) and greater number of relapses in the previous year (HR = 1.07,  = 0.010) were independently associated with an increased risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Improving disability (HR = 0.62,  = 0.039) and disease-modifying therapy exposure (HR = 0.71,  = 0.007) were associated with a lower risk. Recent cerebral magnetic resonance imaging activity, evidence of spinal cord lesions and oligoclonal bands in the cerebrospinal fluid were not associated with the risk of conversion.

Conclusion: Risk of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis increases with age, duration of illness and worsening disability and decreases with improving disability. Therapy may delay the onset of secondary progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519868990DOI Listing
January 2020

Introducing the International Women in Multiple Sclerosis network.

Lancet Neurol 2019 06;18(6):521

Weill Institute for Neurosciences and Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; Benioff Children's Hospital, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(19)30160-7DOI Listing
June 2019

Family planning, antenatal and post partum care in multiple sclerosis: a review and update.

Med J Aust 2019 09 27;211(5):230-236. Epub 2019 Mar 27.

Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.

Multiple sclerosis is more prevalent in women of childbearing age than in any other group. As a result, the impact of multiple sclerosis and its treatment on fertility, planned and unplanned pregnancies, post partum care and breastfeeding presents unique challenges that need to be addressed in everyday clinical practice. Given the increasing number of disease-modifying agents now available in Australia for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, there is a growing need for clinicians to provide their patients with appropriate counselling on family planning. Providing better evidence regarding the relative risks and benefits of continuing therapy before, during and after pregnancy is an important research priority. International pregnancy registries are essential in developing better evidence-based practice guidelines, and neurologists should be encouraged to contribute to these when possible. The management of women with multiple sclerosis, especially when they are taking disease-modifying agents, requires careful assessment of fertility and disease characteristics as well as a multidisciplinary approach to ensure positive outcomes in both mothers and their children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50113DOI Listing
September 2019

Functional neuroplasticity in response to cerebello-thalamic injury underpins the clinical presentation of tremor in multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2020 05 25;26(6):696-705. Epub 2019 Mar 25.

Department of Medicine and Radiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia/Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Background: Tremor is present in almost half of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The lack of understanding of its pathophysiology is hampering progress in development of treatments.

Objectives: To clarify the structural and functional brain changes associated with the clinical phenotype of upper limb tremor in people with MS.

Methods: Fifteen healthy controls (46.1 ± 15.4 years), 27 MS participants without tremor (46.7 ± 11.6 years) and 42 with tremor (46.6 ± 11.5 years) were included. Tremor was quantified using the Bain score (0-10) for overall severity, handwriting and Archimedes spiral drawing. Functional magnetic resonance imaging activations were compared between participants groups during performance of a joystick task designed to isolate tremulous movement. Inflammation and atrophy of cerebello-thalamo-cortical brain structures were quantified.

Results: Tremor participants were found to have atrophy of the cerebellum and thalamus, and higher ipsilateral cerebellar lesion load compared to participants without tremor ( < 0.020). We found higher ipsilateral activation in the inferior parietal lobule, the premotor cortex and supplementary motor area in MS tremor participants compared to MS participants without tremor during the joystick task. Finally, stronger activation in those areas was associated with lower tremor severity.

Conclusion: Subcortical neurodegeneration and inflammation along the cerebello-thalamo-cortical and cortical functional neuroplasticity contribute to the severity of tremor in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458519837706DOI Listing
May 2020

Association of Initial Disease-Modifying Therapy With Later Conversion to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

JAMA 2019 01;321(2):175-187

Institute for Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Wales.

Importance: Within 2 decades of onset, 80% of untreated patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) convert to a phase of irreversible disability accrual termed secondary progressive MS. The association between disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), and this conversion has rarely been studied and never using a validated definition.

Objective: To determine the association between the use, the type of, and the timing of DMTs with the risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS diagnosed with a validated definition.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Cohort study with prospective data from 68 neurology centers in 21 countries examining patients with relapsing-remitting MS commencing DMTs (or clinical monitoring) between 1988-2012 with minimum 4 years' follow-up.

Exposures: The use, type, and timing of the following DMTs: interferon beta, glatiramer acetate, fingolimod, natalizumab, or alemtuzumab. After propensity-score matching, 1555 patients were included (last follow-up, February 14, 2017).

Main Outcome And Measure: Conversion to objectively defined secondary progressive MS.

Results: Of the 1555 patients, 1123 were female (mean baseline age, 35 years [SD, 10]). Patients initially treated with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta had a lower hazard of conversion to secondary progressive MS than matched untreated patients (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.61-0.81; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 12% [49 of 407] vs 27% [58 of 213]; median follow-up, 7.6 years [IQR, 5.8-9.6]), as did fingolimod (HR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.22-0.62; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 7% [6 of 85] vs 32% [56 of 174]; median follow-up, 4.5 years [IQR, 4.3-5.1]); natalizumab (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.43-0.86; P = .005; 5-year absolute risk, 19% [16 of 82] vs 38% [62 of 164]; median follow-up, 4.9 years [IQR, 4.4-5.8]); and alemtuzumab (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.32-0.85; P = .009; 5-year absolute risk, 10% [4 of 44] vs 25% [23 of 92]; median follow-up, 7.4 years [IQR, 6.0-8.6]). Initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion than initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.44-0.99; P = .046); 5-year absolute risk, 7% [16 of 235] vs 12% [46 of 380]; median follow-up, 5.8 years [IQR, 4.7-8.0]). The probability of conversion was lower when glatiramer acetate or interferon beta was started within 5 years of disease onset vs later (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.61-0.98; P = .03; 5-year absolute risk, 3% [4 of 120] vs 6% [2 of 38]; median follow-up, 13.4 years [IQR, 11-18.1]). When glatiramer acetate or interferon beta were escalated to fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab within 5 years vs later, the HR was 0.76 (95% CI, 0.66-0.88; P < .001; 5-year absolute risk, 8% [25 of 307] vs 14% [46 of 331], median follow-up, 5.3 years [IQR], 4.6-6.1).

Conclusions And Relevance: Among patients with relapsing-remitting MS, initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS vs initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta. These findings, considered along with these therapies' risks, may help inform decisions about DMT selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.20588DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6439772PMC
January 2019

Comparison of fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate and teriflunomide for multiple sclerosis.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2019 04 13;90(4):458-468. Epub 2019 Jan 13.

Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: Oral immunotherapies have become a standard treatment in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Direct comparison of their effect on relapse and disability is needed.

Methods: We identified all patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis treated with teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate or fingolimod, with minimum 3-month treatment persistence and disability follow-up in the global MSBase cohort study. Patients were matched using propensity scores. Three pairwise analyses compared annualised relapse rates and hazards of disability accumulation, disability improvement and treatment discontinuation (analysed with negative binomial models and weighted conditional survival models, with pairwise censoring).

Results: The eligible cohorts consisted of 614 (teriflunomide), 782 (dimethyl fumarate) or 2332 (fingolimod) patients, followed over the median of 2.5 years. Annualised relapse rates were lower on fingolimod compared with teriflunomide (0.18 vs 0.24; p=0.05) and dimethyl fumarate (0.20 vs 0.26; p=0.01) and similar on dimethyl fumarate and teriflunomide (0.19 vs 0.22; p=0.55). No differences in disability accumulation (p≥0.59) or improvement (p≥0.14) were found between the therapies. In patients with ≥3-month treatment persistence, subsequent discontinuations were less likely on fingolimod than teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate (p<0.001). Discontinuation rates on teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate were similar (p=0.68).

Conclusion: The effect of fingolimod on relapse frequency was superior to teriflunomide and dimethyl fumarate. The effect of the three oral therapies on disability outcomes was similar during the initial 2.5 years on treatment. Persistence on fingolimod was superior to the two comparator drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2018-319831DOI Listing
April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Association of Inflammation and Disability Accrual in Patients With Progressive-Onset Multiple Sclerosis.

JAMA Neurol 2018 11;75(11):1407-1415

CORe, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Importance: The role of inflammatory disease activity as a determinant of disability in progressive-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) remains contested.

Objective: To examine the association of superimposed relapses in progressive-onset MS on disease outcomes.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Observational cohort study from MSBase, a prospectively collected, international database. Data were collected between January 1995 and February 2017. Analyses began in February 2017. From 44 449 patients at time of extraction, 1419 eligible patients (31.9%) were identified for analysis. Inclusion criteria consisted of primary progressive MS (PPMS) or progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS), adult-onset disease, and minimum data set (including ≥3 visits with disability recorded, ≥3 months between second and last visit). Data were analyzed using multivariable regression models (Andersen-Gill) with mixed effects. Two sensitivity analyses to exclude both relapse-related disability progression and bout-onset progressive MS were performed.

Exposures: Grouped according to presence or absence of relapse, defined as an acute episode of clinical worsening. Quantifiable disability change or correlation on imaging was not required to confirm relapse.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Cumulative hazard of disability progression.

Results: Patients with PRMS were younger than those with PPMS (mean [SD] age, 46 [15] vs 51 [10] years, Cohen d = 0.40) and demonstrated a mean lower Expanded Disability Status Scale score (mean [SD] score, 4.0 [3] vs 4.5 [2.5], Cohen d = 0.28) at inclusion. The ratio of men to women was similar in the PRMS and PPMS groups (252:301 vs 394:472). The overall mean (SD) age was 48 (11) years for men and 50 (10) years for women. Likelihood of confirmed disability progression was lower in patients with superimposed relapses (hazard ratio [HR], 0.83; 95% CI, 0.74-0.94; P = .003). Proportion of follow-up time spent on disease-modifying therapy significantly reduced the hazard of confirmed disability progression in the cohort with relapse (HR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.99; P = .01) but not in those without relapse (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.99-1.05; P = .26). When accounting for relapse-related progression, the association of disease-modifying therapy in the cohort with superimposed relapse was no longer observed (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.96-1.24; P = .16).

Conclusions And Relevance: In progressive-onset MS, superimposed relapses are associated with a lower risk of confirmed disability progression. This is most likely attributed to the association of disease-modifying therapy with the prevention of relapse-related disability accrual in patients with superimposed relapse. These findings suggest that inflammatory relapses are an important and modifiable determinant of disability accrual in progressive-onset disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.2109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6248114PMC
November 2018

Genotype and Phenotype in Multiple Sclerosis-Potential for Disease Course Prediction?

Curr Treat Options Neurol 2018 Apr 24;20(6):18. Epub 2018 Apr 24.

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

Purpose Of Review: This review will examine the current evidence that genetic and/or epigenetic variation may influence the multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical course, phenotype, and measures of MS severity including disability progression and relapse rate.

Recent Findings: There is little evidence that MS clinical phenotype is under significant genetic control. There is increasing evidence that there may be genetic determinants of the rate of disability progression. However, studies that can analyse disability progression and take into account all the confounding variables such as treatment, clinical characteristics, and environmental factors are by necessity longitudinal, relatively small, and generally of short duration, and thus do not lend themselves to the assessment of hundreds of thousands of genetic variables obtained from GWAS. Despite this, there is recent evidence to support the association of genetic loci with relapse rate. Recent progress suggests that genetic variations could be associated with disease severity, but not MS clinical phenotype, but these findings are not definitive and await replication. Pooling of study results, application of other genomic techniques including epigenomics, and analysis of biomarkers of progression could functionally validate putative severity markers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11940-018-0505-6DOI Listing
April 2018

Towards personalized therapy for multiple sclerosis: prediction of individual treatment response.

Brain 2017 Sep;140(9):2426-2443

Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, 300 Grattan St, Melbourne, 3050, Australia.

Timely initiation of effective therapy is crucial for preventing disability in multiple sclerosis; however, treatment response varies greatly among patients. Comprehensive predictive models of individual treatment response are lacking. Our aims were: (i) to develop predictive algorithms for individual treatment response using demographic, clinical and paraclinical predictors in patients with multiple sclerosis; and (ii) to evaluate accuracy, and internal and external validity of these algorithms. This study evaluated 27 demographic, clinical and paraclinical predictors of individual response to seven disease-modifying therapies in MSBase, a large global cohort study. Treatment response was analysed separately for disability progression, disability regression, relapse frequency, conversion to secondary progressive disease, change in the cumulative disease burden, and the probability of treatment discontinuation. Multivariable survival and generalized linear models were used, together with the principal component analysis to reduce model dimensionality and prevent overparameterization. Accuracy of the individual prediction was tested and its internal validity was evaluated in a separate, non-overlapping cohort. External validity was evaluated in a geographically distinct cohort, the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry. In the training cohort (n = 8513), the most prominent modifiers of treatment response comprised age, disease duration, disease course, previous relapse activity, disability, predominant relapse phenotype and previous therapy. Importantly, the magnitude and direction of the associations varied among therapies and disease outcomes. Higher probability of disability progression during treatment with injectable therapies was predominantly associated with a greater disability at treatment start and the previous therapy. For fingolimod, natalizumab or mitoxantrone, it was mainly associated with lower pretreatment relapse activity. The probability of disability regression was predominantly associated with pre-baseline disability, therapy and relapse activity. Relapse incidence was associated with pretreatment relapse activity, age and relapsing disease course, with the strength of these associations varying among therapies. Accuracy and internal validity (n = 1196) of the resulting predictive models was high (>80%) for relapse incidence during the first year and for disability outcomes, moderate for relapse incidence in Years 2-4 and for the change in the cumulative disease burden, and low for conversion to secondary progressive disease and treatment discontinuation. External validation showed similar results, demonstrating high external validity for disability and relapse outcomes, moderate external validity for cumulative disease burden and low external validity for conversion to secondary progressive disease and treatment discontinuation. We conclude that demographic, clinical and paraclinical information helps predict individual response to disease-modifying therapies at the time of their commencement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awx185DOI Listing
September 2017

Cladribine versus fingolimod, natalizumab and interferon β for multiple sclerosis.

Mult Scler 2018 10 31;24(12):1617-1626. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Department of Neurology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia/Department of Neurology, Box Hill Hospital, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Objective: This propensity score-matched analysis from MSBase compared the effectiveness of cladribine with interferon β, fingolimod or natalizumab.

Methods: We identified all patients with relapse-onset multiple sclerosis, exposure to the study therapies and ⩾1-year on-treatment follow-up from MSBase. Three pairwise propensity score-matched analyses compared treatment outcomes over 1 year. The outcomes were hazards of first relapse, disability accumulation and disability improvement events. Sensitivity analyses were completed.

Results: The cohorts consisted of 37 (cladribine), 1940 (interferon), 1892 (fingolimod) and 1410 patients (natalizumab). The probability of experiencing a relapse on cladribine was lower than on interferon ( p = 0.05), similar to fingolimod ( p = 0.31) and higher than on natalizumab ( p = 0.042). The probability of disability accumulation on cladribine was similar to interferon ( p = 0.37) and fingolimod ( p = 0.089) but greater than natalizumab ( p = 0.021). The probability of disability improvement was higher on cladribine than interferon ( p = 0.00017), fingolimod ( p = 0.0025) or natalizumab ( p = 0.00099). Sensitivity analyses largely confirmed the above results.

Conclusion: Cladribine is an effective therapy for relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Its effect on relapses is comparable to fingolimod and its effect on disability accrual is comparable to interferon β and fingolimod. Cladribine may potentially associate with superior recovery from disability relative to interferon, fingolimod and natalizumab.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458517728812DOI Listing
October 2018

Anti-inflammatory disease-modifying treatment and short-term disability progression in SPMS.

Neurology 2017 Sep 9;89(10):1050-1059. Epub 2017 Aug 9.

Objective: To investigate the effect of disease-modifying treatment on short-term disability outcomes in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).

Methods: Using MSBase, an international cohort study, we previously validated a highly accurate definition of SPMS. Here, we identified patients in MSBase who were either untreated or treated with a disease-modifying drug when meeting this definition. Propensity score matching was used to select subpopulations with comparable baseline characteristics. Disability outcomes were compared in paired, pairwise-censored analyses adjusted for treatment persistence, visit density, and relapse rates.

Results: Of the 2,381 included patients, 1,378 patients were matchable (treated n = 689, untreated n = 689). Median pairwise-censored follow-up was 2.1 years (quartiles 1.2-3.8 years). No difference in the risk of 6-month sustained disability progression was observed between the groups (hazard ratio [HR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7-1.1, = 0.27). We also did not find differences in any of the secondary endpoints: risk of reaching Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ≥7 (HR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-1.1, = 0.10), sustained disability reduction (HR 1.0, 95% CI 0.8-1.3, = 0.79), or change in disability burden (area under the EDSS-time curve, β = -0.05, = 0.09). Secondary and sensitivity analyses confirmed the results.

Conclusions: Our pooled analysis of the currently available disease-modifying agents used after conversion to SPMS suggests that, on average, these therapies have no substantial effect on relapse-unrelated disability outcomes measured by the EDSS up to 4 years.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with SPMS, disease-modifying treatment has no beneficial effect on short-term disability progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000004330DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589791PMC
September 2017

Long-term disability trajectories in primary progressive MS patients: A latent class growth analysis.

Mult Scler 2018 04 6;24(5):642-652. Epub 2017 Apr 6.

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

Background: Several natural history studies on primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) patients detected a consistent heterogeneity in the rate of disability accumulation.

Objectives: To identify subgroups of PPMS patients with similar longitudinal trajectories of Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) over time.

Methods: All PPMS patients collected within the MSBase registry, who had their first EDSS assessment within 5 years from onset, were included in the analysis. Longitudinal EDSS scores were modeled by a latent class mixed model (LCMM), using a nonlinear function of time from onset. LCMM is an advanced statistical approach that models heterogeneity between patients by classifying them into unobserved groups showing similar characteristics.

Results: A total of 853 PPMS (51.7% females) from 24 countries with a mean age at onset of 42.4 years (standard deviation (SD): 10.8 years), a median baseline EDSS of 4 (interquartile range (IQR): 2.5-5.5), and 2.4 years of disease duration (SD: 1.5 years) were included. LCMM detected three different subgroups of patients with a mild ( n = 143; 16.8%), moderate ( n = 378; 44.3%), or severe ( n = 332; 38.9%) disability trajectory. The probability of reaching EDSS 6 at 10 years was 0%, 46.4%, and 81.9% respectively.

Conclusion: Applying an LCMM modeling approach to long-term EDSS data, it is possible to identify groups of PPMS patients with different prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458517703800DOI Listing
April 2018