Find this article in the latest issue of the Journal of Neurology


New advances in understanding the pathophysiology of vestibular migraine (VM) have suggested a large overlap between migraine and vestibular pathways. We explored the regional distribution of gray (GM) and white matter (WM) abnormalities in VM patients in comparison to migraine patients with (MWA) and without aura (MWoA) and their correlations with patients’ clinical manifestations. Using a 3.0 Tesla scanner, brain T2-weighted and 3D T1-weighted MRI scans were acquired from 19 VM, 19 MWA, 19 MWoA and 20 age-matched controls. GM and WM volumetric abnormalities were estimated using voxel-based morphometry (SPM12). Compared to controls, migraine patients had decreased GM volume of the left cerebellum and an increased GM volume of the left temporal lobe. VM patients had a selective GM volume increase of frontal and occipital regions compared to controls and the other two groups of migraineurs and no regions with decreased GM volume. Compared to MWoA and MWA, VM had increased GM volume of the left thalamus. Regional GM abnormalities did not correlate with disease duration and attack frequency. No WM volumetric differences were detected between migraine patients and controls. These results show that GM volume abnormalities of nociceptive and multisensory vestibular brain areas occur in VM patients. Overall, our findings suggest that an abnormal brain sensitization might lead to a dismodulation of multimodal sensory integration and processing cortical areas in VM patients.

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This article, pulbished in the latest issue of Neurology journal, shows that grey matter sodium concentration better explains cognitive impairment than atrophy in MS patients.

To investigate whether brain total sodium accumulation assessed by 23Na MRI is associated with cognitive deficit in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

Eighty-nine participants were enrolled in the study (58 patients with RRMS with a disease duration ≤10 years and 31 matched healthy controls). Patients were classified as cognitively impaired if they failed at least 2 tasks on the Brief Repeatable Battery. MRI was performed at 3T using 23Na MRI to obtain total sodium concentration (TSC) in the different brain compartments (lesions, normal-appearing white matter [NAWM], gray matter [GM]) and 1H- magnetization-prepared rapid gradient echo to assess GM atrophy (GM fraction).

The mean disease duration was 3.1 years and the median Expanded Disability Status Scale score was 1 (range 0–4.5). Thirty-seven patients were classified as cognitively preserved and 21 as cognitively impaired. TSC was increased in GM and NAWM in cognitively impaired patients compared to cognitively preserved patients and healthy controls. Voxel-wise analysis demonstrated that sodium accumulation was mainly located in the neocortex in cognitively impaired patients. Regression analysis evidenced than the 2 best independent predictors of cognitive impairment were GM TSC and age. Receiver operating characteristic analyses demonstrated that sensitivity and specificity of the GM TSC to classify patients according to their cognitive status were 76% and 71%, respectively.

This study provides 2 main findings. (1) In RRMS, total sodium accumulation in the GM is better associated with cognitive impairment than GM atrophy; and (2) total sodium accumulation in patients with cognitive impairment is mainly located in the neocortex.

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Two articles were published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, providing results of phase III trials regarding efficacy of ocrelizumab in relapsing-remitting and primary progressive MS.

Both trials show positive results.

ORATORIO trial in primary progressive MS

An evolving understanding of the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis suggests that depleting B cells could be useful for treatment. We studied ocrelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes CD20-expressing B cells, in the primary progressive form of the disease.

In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 732 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in a 2:1 ratio to receive intravenous ocrelizumab (600 mg) or placebo every 24 weeks for at least 120 weeks and until a prespecified number of confirmed disability progression events had occurred. The primary end point was the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 12 weeks in a time-to-event analysis.

The percentage of patients with 12-week confirmed disability progression was 32.9% with ocrelizumab versus 39.3% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.59 to 0.98; P=0.03). The percentage of patients with 24-week confirmed disability progression was 29.6% with ocrelizumab versus 35.7% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.98; P=0.04). By week 120, performance on the timed 25-foot walk worsened by 38.9% with ocrelizumab versus 55.1% with placebo (P=0.04); the total volume of brain lesions on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) decreased by 3.4% with ocrelizumab and increased by 7.4% with placebo (P<0.001); and the percentage of brain-volume loss was 0.90% with ocrelizumab versus 1.09% with placebo (P=0.02). There was no significant difference in the change in the Physical Component Summary score of the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Infusion-related reactions, upper respiratory tract infections, and oral herpes infections were more frequent with ocrelizumab than with placebo. Neoplasms occurred in 2.3% of patients who received ocrelizumab and in 0.8% of patients who received placebo; there was no clinically significant difference between groups in the rates of serious adverse events and serious infections.

Among patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of clinical and MRI progression than placebo. Extended observation is required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of ocrelizumab. (Funded by F. Hoffmann–La Roche; ORATORIO number, NCT01194570.)

OPERA trial in relapsing remitting MS

B cells influence the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Ocrelizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes CD20+ B cells.

In two identical phase 3 trials, we randomly assigned 821 and 835 patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis to receive intravenous ocrelizumab at a dose of 600 mg every 24 weeks or subcutaneous interferon beta-1a at a dose of 44 μg three times weekly for 96 weeks. The primary end point was the annualized relapse rate.

The annualized relapse rate was lower with ocrelizumab than with interferon beta-1a in trial 1 (0.16 vs. 0.29; 46% lower rate with ocrelizumab; P<0.001) and in trial 2 (0.16 vs. 0.29; 47% lower rate; P<0.001). In prespecified pooled analyses, the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 12 weeks was significantly lower with ocrelizumab than with interferon beta-1a (9.1% vs. 13.6%; hazard ratio, 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.81; P<0.001), as was the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 24 weeks (6.9% vs. 10.5%; hazard ratio, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.84; P=0.003). The mean number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions per T1-weighted magnetic resonance scan was 0.02 with ocrelizumab versus 0.29 with interferon beta-1a in trial 1 (94% lower number of lesions with ocrelizumab, P<0.001) and 0.02 versus 0.42 in trial 2 (95% lower number of lesions, P<0.001). The change in the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite score (a composite measure of walking speed, upper-limb movements, and cognition; for this z score, negative values indicate worsening and positive values indicate improvement) significantly favored ocrelizumab over interferon beta-1a in trial 2 (0.28 vs. 0.17, P=0.004) but not in trial 1 (0.21 vs. 0.17, P=0.33). Infusion-related reactions occurred in 34.3% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab. Serious infection occurred in 1.3% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab and in 2.9% of those treated with interferon beta-1a. Neoplasms occurred in 0.5% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab and in 0.2% of those treated with interferon beta-1a.

Among patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of disease activity and progression than interferon beta-1a over a period of 96 weeks. Larger and longer studies of the safety of ocrelizumab are required. (Funded by F. Hoffmann–La Roche; OPERA I and II numbers, NCT01247324 and NCT01412333, respectively.)


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