Risk factors for reactivation of clinical disease activity in multiple sclerosis after natalizumab cessation
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CitationMustonen, Tiina. Rauma, Ilkka. Hartikainen, Päivi. Krüger, Johanna. Niiranen, Marja. Selander, Tuomas. Simula, Simula. Remes, Anne M. Kuusisto, Hanna. (2020). Risk factors for reactivation of clinical disease activity in multiple sclerosis after natalizumab cessation. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders, 38, 101498. 10.1016/j.msard.2019.101498.
Natalizumab (NTZ) is widely used for highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Inflammatory disease activity often returns after NTZ treatment discontinuation. We aimed to identify predictive factors for such reactivation in a real-life setting.
We conducted a retrospective survey in four Finnish hospitals. A computer-based search was used to identify all patients who had received NTZ for multiple sclerosis. Patients were included if they had received at least six NTZ infusions, had discontinued treatment for at least three months, and follow-up data was available for at least 12 months after discontinuation. Altogether 89 patients were analyzed with Cox regression model to identify risk factors for reactivation, defined as having a corticosteroid-treated relapse.
At 6 and 12 months after discontinuation of NTZ, a relapse was documented in 27.0% and 35.6% of patients, whereas corticosteroid-treated relapses were documented in 20.2% and 30.3% of patients, respectively. A higher number of relapses during the year prior to the introduction of NTZ was associated with a significantly higher risk for reactivation at 6 months (Hazard Ratio [HR] 1.65, p < 0.001) and at 12 months (HR 1.53, p < 0.001). Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) of 5.5 or higher before NTZ initiation was associated with a higher reactivation risk at 6 months (HR 3.70, p = 0.020). Subsequent disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) failed to prevent reactivation of MS in this cohort. However, when subsequent DMDs were used, a washout time longer than 3 months was associated with a higher reactivation risk at 6 months regardless of whether patients were switched to first-line (HR 7.69, p = 0.019) or second-line therapies (HR 3.94, p = 0.035). Gender, age, time since diagnosis, and the number of NTZ infusions were not associated with an increased risk for reactivation.
High disease activity and a high level of disability prior to NTZ treatment seem to predict disease reactivation after treatment cessation. When switching to subsequent DMDs, the washout time should not exceed 3 months. However, subsequent DMDs failed to prevent the reactivation of MS in this cohort.