Long-Term Cognitive Impairment from Multiple Sclerosis Reaffirmed by Kessler Foundation

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by Maureen Newman |

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shutterstock_85776457Researchers at the Kessler Foundation bolstered the knowledge of cognitive decline in multiple sclerosis patients with an article published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. This longitudinal study is one of the longest among studies of cognition in multiple sclerosis.

“While cognitive impairment is known to affect 40 to 65% of individuals with multiple sclerosis, few studies have followed the pattern of cognitive decline over time, which is important for understanding long-term care and outcomes associated with multiple sclerosis,” said Lauren B. Strober, PhD, senior author at the Kessler Foundation, in a news release.

Dr. Strober, along with Stephen Rao, PhD, Jar-Chi Lee, Elizabeth Fisher, PhD, and Richard Rudick, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, followed patients from the original Avonex study (Phase 3 clinical trial of intramuscular interferon beta-1a) from the early 1990s to 18 years later. “Our study was based on a unique sample of 22 patients who underwent neuropsychological testing at entry into the original phase 3 clinical trial… and again at 18-year followup,” explained Dr. Strober.

More patients were found to have cognitive impairment at the 18-year point than at the beginning of the study. Nine patients had cognitive impairment at baseline, compared to 13 patients at 18 years. They experienced significant declines in information processing speed, auditory attention, memory, episodic learning, and visual construction. Individuals who were already impaired at baseline saw a greater worsening of impairment over time compared to those who were unimpaired at baseline.

“These longitudinal data contribute substantially to our knowledge of the course of cognitive decline in multiple sclerosis,” noted John DeLuca, PhD, VP of Research & Training at Kessler Foundation. “In light of the young age at diagnosis, this perspective is fundamental to the development of rehabilitation strategies that meet the needs of people dealing with the cognitive effects of multiple sclerosis.”

Biogen Idec, whose main focus is improving the lives of patients with neurological, autoimmune, and hematological disorders, sponsored the study.

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