Brain Volume Changes in Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Treated with Interferon Beta-1a

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The reductions in brain volume often seen in patients with chronic relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis may be reduced by treatment with interferon beta-1a, though treatment may be affected by the patient's immunologic status.

DALLAS -- May 30, 2014 — The reductions in brain volume often seen in patients with chronic relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis may be reduced by treatment with interferon beta-1a, though treatment may be affected by the patient’s immunologic status, according to data presented by Michael G. Dwyer, PhD, at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and the Sixth Cooperative Meeting with Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS).

Dwyer is an assistant professor of neurology in the Department of Neurology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the technical imaging director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, Buffalo, NY.

According to Dwyer, chronic relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) progression is often associated with decreased brain volume. “We know there are volume changes, but we don’t have a ‘smoking gun,’” he said.

In the study write-up, the authors noted that “Over the short term, brain volume may change, via inflammation-related hydrodynamic changes, which subside following anti-inflammatory therapy,” known as pseudoatrophy.

Dwyer presented data from a study, titled “Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Treated with Interferon Beta-1a: Immunologic and Short-term Volume Changes,” that compared percent brain volume change between 23 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis who were treated for 24 weeks with subcutaneous injections of interferon beta-1a three times per week, and 15 healthy controls.

Patients were evaluated via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at baseline, and at months 3 and 6. Researchers also assessed immunologic markers (CD4+ T cells producing interleukin (IL)-17F) at baseline and again at 6 months.

Researchers assessed percent brain volume change from baseline to month 3, from month 3 to month 6, and from baseline to month 6 and compared differences both within and between groups.

The study found that the percent brain volume change between baseline and 3 months was -0.95% (SD= 1.712%) among patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (P=0.03) and 0.24% (SD 1.068%) among healthy controls (P=0.36).

The difference was significant between groups (P=0.02).

However, the researchers found no significant difference in percent brain volume change within or between either group from months 3 to 6, or from baseline to month 6.

The authors reported that decreased percentage of CD4+ T cells producing IL-17F from baseline to month 6 “was significantly correlated with reduced brain volume over months 0 to 6 (r = 0.51, P=0.02)” in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Treatment with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a was associated with reduced brain volume over the first 3 months of treatment, but there were no differences in brain volume seen in treated patients from month 3 to month 6, or from baseline to month 6.

The authors noted “the correlation between decreased percentage of CD4+ T cells producing inflammatory IL-17F and volume reduction is supportive of an early anti-inflammatory effect” of treatment with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a.

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