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Keywords:

  • disease modifying therapies;
  • IgM;
  • immunomodulation;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • oligoclonal bands

Background and purpose:  Interferon beta and Glatiramer acetate are safe immunomodulatory treatments (IT) for multiple sclerosis (MS), but not always effective. New drugs are available, although they show more side-effects and unknown long-term safety profile. Anti-lipid oligoclonal IgM bands (OCMB) distinguish MS patients with early aggressive course. We prospectively studied if IT are effective in these patients or if they are candidates for more aggressive drugs as first therapeutic option.

Methods:  Seventy-five clinically isolated syndrome patients were studied. OCMB and conversion to MS were assessed. Patients suffering at least two demyelinating events within 3 years were considered eligible to start IT.

Results:  Eighteen patients showed OCMB (M+) and 57 lacked them (M−). All M+ patients and only 25 M− patients were treated. The other 32 M− patients suffered less MS attacks than those required to initiate treatment. IT similarly reduced relapse rate in both treated groups (P < 0.0001) and reduced Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) progression in M+ patients, whose EDSS score had significantly increased before treatment. EDSS did not change in M− patients during follow-up, regardless if they were treated or not.

Conclusions:  Oligoclonal IgM bands identify MS patients who are candidates for early immunomodulatory treatment as IT improves their initial aggressive disease course.