Older age at onset and evidence of active disease, like clinical relapses or inflammatory brain lesions, significantly increase the likelihood of faster disability progression in primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), a natural history study suggests.
These findings — which included active disease being seen in 31% of the 178 patients in this study — may help in understanding factors that influence PPMS course, leading to clinical trials and therapeutic approaches better designed for this population, its researchers said.
Age-related data also support the existence of other underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration apart from disease activity.
The study, “Disease activity impacts disability progression in primary progressive multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
PPMS is marked by a steady disease progression from the onset of symptoms, but the rate of progression varies among patients. Whether disease activity in PPMS significantly contributes to the pace of progression remains controversial.
This disease is classified as “active” when a patient has an occasional relapse, or there is evidence of new brain lesions on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
In addition, “most natural history studies on MS patients have been performed in Western Europe and North America, none of which included Latin American patients,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers in Argentina set out to identify potential predictors of disability worsening, including disease activity, in 178 PPMS patients (95 women and 83 men) being followed at two MS clinics in Buenos Aires.
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