Comorbidities such as anxiety and depression are associated with a significantly increased risk of relapse in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), a clinical trial analysis has found.
Anxiety and abnormal blood lipids (fats) also increased the risk of any RRMS disease activity.
Based on those findings, researchers suggest that the presence of comorbidities (coexisting conditions) may influence clinical trial outcomes and should be investigated.
The study, “Comorbidity is associated with disease activity in MS: Findings from the CombiRx trial,” was published in the journal Neurology.
Many people with MS have chronic comorbidities, with the most common ones being depression, high blood pressure (hypertension), anxiety, and abnormal blood lipid levels.
While studies suggest that comorbidity may influence the severity of disease at diagnosis, as well as the rate of disease worsening, little is known about the impact of comorbidity on measures of disease activity such as relapse rate.
Researchers based in the U.S. and Canada conducted a study to assess the prevalence of comorbidities in RRMS patients and explore the possible association between comorbidity and clinical measures such as relapses, disability worsening, and the presence of active lesions as determined by MRI scans.
For this analysis, data were obtained from the CombiRx Phase 3 clinical trial (NCT00211887), which compared the combination of interferon beta-1a (marketed as Avonex by Biogen) and glatiramer acetate (marketed as Copaxone by Teva Pharmaceuticals) to each of these agents alone (monotherapy), versus placebo in treatment naïve RRMS patients.
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