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Keywords:

  • disease modifying therapy;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • natalizumab;
  • treatment failure

Background:  Natalizumab has been recommended for the treatment of relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in patients with insufficient response to interferon-beta/glatiramer acetate (DMT) or aggressive MS. The pivotal trials were not conducted to investigate natalizumab monotherapy in this patient population.

Method:  Retrospective, multicenter study in Germany and Switzerland. Five major MS centers reported all RRMS patients who initiated natalizumab ≥12 months prior to study conduction.

Results:  Ninety-seven RRMS patients were included [69% female, mean age 36.5 years, mean Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 3.4; 93.8% were pre-treated with DMT], mean treatment duration with natalizumab was 19.3 ± 6.1 months. We found a reduction of the annualized relapse rate from 2.3 to 0.2, 80.4% were relapse free with natalizumab. EDSS improved in 12.4% and 89.7% were progression free (change of >/= 1 EDSS point). Eighty-six per cent of patients with highly active disease (>/= 2 relapses in the year and >/= 1 Gadolinium (Gd)+ lesion at study entry, n = 20) remained relapse free. The mean number of Gd enhancing lesions was reduced to 0.1 (0.8 at baseline). Discontinuation rate was 8.2% (4.1% for antibody-positivity).

Conclusion:  Natalizumab is effective after insufficient response to other DMT and also in patients with high disease activity.