How patients with multiple sclerosis acquire disability.
Lublin FD., Häring DA., Ganjgahi H., Ocampo A., Hatami F., Čuklina J., Aarden P., Dahlke F., Arnold DL., Wiendl H., Chitnis T., Nichols TE., Kieseier BC., Bermel RA.
Patients with multiple sclerosis acquire disability either through relapse-associated worsening (RAW) or progression independent of relapse activity (PIRA). This study addresses the relative contribution of relapses to disability worsening over the course of the disease, how early progression begins and the extent to which multiple sclerosis therapies delay disability accumulation. Using the Novartis-Oxford multiple sclerosis (NO.MS) data pool spanning all multiple sclerosis phenotypes and paediatric multiple sclerosis, we evaluated ∼200 000 Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) transitions from >27 000 patients with ≤15 years follow-up. We analysed three datasets: (i) A full analysis dataset containing all observational and randomized controlled clinical trials in which disability and relapses were assessed (n = 27 328); (ii) all phase 3 clinical trials (n = 8346); and (iii) all placebo-controlled phase 3 clinical trials (n = 4970). We determined the relative importance of RAW and PIRA, investigated the role of relapses on all-cause disability worsening using Andersen-Gill models and observed the impact of the mechanism of worsening and disease-modifying therapies on the time to reach milestone disability levels using time continuous Markov models. PIRA started early in the disease process, occurred in all phenotypes and became the principal driver of disability accumulation in the progressive phase of the disease. Relapses significantly increased the hazard of all-cause disability worsening events; following a year in which relapses occurred (versus a year without relapses), the hazard increased by 31-48% (all P