The 2010 McDonald criteria for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis are widely used in research and clinical practice. Scientific advances in the past 7 years suggest that they might no longer provide the most up-to-date guidance for clinicians and researchers. The International Panel on Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis reviewed the 2010 McDonald criteria and recommended revisions. The 2017 McDonald criteria continue to apply primarily to patients experiencing a typical clinically isolated syndrome, define what is needed to fulfil dissemination in time and space of lesions in the CNS, and stress the need for no better explanation for the presentation. The following changes were made: in patients with a typical clinically isolated syndrome and clinical or MRI demonstration of dissemination in space, the presence of CSF-specific oligoclonal bands allows a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis; symptomatic lesions can be used to demonstrate dissemination in space or time in patients with supratentorial, infratentorial, or spinal cord syndrome; and cortical lesions can be used to demonstrate dissemination in space. Research to further refine the criteria should focus on optic nerve involvement, validation in diverse populations, and incorporation of advanced imaging, neurophysiological, and body fluid markers.
This trial showed the superior efficacy of oral fingolimod with respect to relapse rates and MRI outcomes in patients with multiple sclerosis, as compared with intramuscular interferon beta-1a. Longer studies are needed to assess the safety and efficacy of treatment beyond 1 year. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00340834.)
Accurate clinical course descriptions (phenotypes) of multiple sclerosis (MS) are important for communication, prognostication, design and recruitment of clinical trials, and treatment decision-making. Standardized descriptions published in 1996 based on a survey of international MS experts provided purely clinical phenotypes based on data and consensus at that time, but imaging and biological correlates were lacking. Increased understanding of MS and its pathology, coupled with general concern that the original descriptors may not adequately reflect more recently identified clinical aspects of the disease, prompted a re-examination of MS disease phenotypes by the International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials of MS. While imaging and biological markers that might provide objective criteria for separating clinical phenotypes are lacking, we propose refined descriptors that include consideration of disease activity (based on clinical relapse rate and imaging findings) and disease progression. Strategies for future research to better define phenotypes are also outlined.
Multiple sclerosis (OMIM 126200) is a common disease of the central nervous system in which the interplay between inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes typically results in intermittent neurological disturbance followed by progressive accumulation of disability.1 Epidemiological studies have shown that genetic factors are primarily responsible for the substantially increased frequency of the disease seen in the relatives of affected individuals;2,3 and systematic attempts to identify linkage in multiplex families have confirmed that variation within the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) exerts the greatest individual effect on risk.4 Modestly powered Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS)5-10 have enabled more than 20 additional risk loci to be identified and have shown that multiple variants exerting modest individual effects play a key role in disease susceptibility.11 Most of the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to the disease remains to be defined and is anticipated to require the analysis of sample sizes that are beyond the numbers currently available to individual research groups. In a collaborative GWAS involving 9772 cases of European descent collected by 23 research groups working in 15 different countries, we have replicated almost all of the previously suggested associations and identified at least a further 29 novel susceptibility loci. Within the MHC we have refined the identity of the DRB1 risk alleles and confirmed that variation in the HLA-A gene underlies the independent protective effect attributable to the Class I region. Immunologically relevant genes are significantly over-represented amongst those mapping close to the identified loci and particularly implicate T helper cell differentiation in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.
Among patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of clinical and MRI progression than placebo. Extended observation is required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of ocrelizumab. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; ORATORIO ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01194570 .).
Among patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of disease activity and progression than interferon beta-1a over a period of 96 weeks. Larger and longer studies of the safety of ocrelizumab are required. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; OPERA I and II ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT01247324 and NCT01412333 , respectively.).
Treatment with cladribine tablets significantly reduced relapse rates, the risk of disability progression, and MRI measures of disease activity at 96 weeks. The benefits need to be weighed against the risks. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00213135.)
Widespread demyelination and axonal loss are the pathological hallmarks of multiple sclerosis. The multifocal nature of this chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system complicates cellular therapy and puts emphasis on both the donor cell origin and the route of cell transplantation. We established syngenic adult neural stem cell cultures and injected them into an animal model of multiple sclerosis--experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in the mouse--either intravenously or intracerebroventricularly. In both cases, significant numbers of donor cells entered into demyelinating areas of the central nervous system and differentiated into mature brain cells. Within these areas, oligodendrocyte progenitors markedly increased, with many of them being of donor origin and actively remyelinating axons. Furthermore, a significant reduction of astrogliosis and a marked decrease in the extent of demyelination and axonal loss were observed in transplanted animals. The functional impairment caused by EAE was almost abolished in transplanted mice, both clinically and neurophysiologically. Thus, adult neural precursor cells promote multifocal remyelination and functional recovery after intravenous or intrathecal injection in a chronic model of multiple sclerosis.
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