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Frequency and severity of headache is worsened by Interferon-β therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis

Authors


M. Zappia, Department of Neurosciences, Università di Catania, Via S. Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
Tel.: 0039 95 3782616
Fax: 095 3782741
e-mail: m.zappia@unict.it

Abstract

Patti F, Nicoletti A, Pappalardo A, Castiglione A, Lo Fermo S, Messina S, D’Amico E, Cimino V, Zappia M. Frequency and severity of headache is worsened by Interferon-β therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Acta Neurol Scand: 2012: 125: 91–95.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Background –  The relationship between multiple sclerosis (MS) and headache (HA) is not well known. It was reported that interferon-beta (IFNβ) could induce or worsen HA.

Objective –  To evaluate the impact of IFNβ treatment on HA and the relationship between HA and the various commercial preparations of IFNβ in mildly disabled patients with MS.

Methods –  A specific questionnaire was administered to 357 relapsing-remitting MS patients. Characteristics of HAs were considered, including the temporal relationships with IFNβ administration.

Results –  One hundred and seventeen patients were treated with weekly intramuscular injections of interferon IFNβ-1a (Avonex®), 84 with subcutaneous injections of IFNβ-1b (Betaferon®) every other day, 48 and 108 with three times weekly subcutaneous injections of IFNβ-1a (Rebif®) 22 mcg or IFNβ-1a (Rebif®) 44 mcg, respectively. Three hundred and fourteen patients were affected by HA, and among them, 219 patients suffered of pre-existing HA. In this latter group, 121 subjects (55%) noted a worsening of their HA after starting IFNβ therapy; this was more frequently reported by patients treated with Avonex® and Rebif® 44. Ninety-five patients experienced new HA.

Conclusion –  IFNβ treatment could worsen HA in patients with pre-existing HA or cause the appearance of new HA. Among different IFNβ preparations, Rebif® 44 and Avonex® seemed to be more cephalalgic than the other drugs.

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