Read our weekly newspaper about neurology and neuroscience!
An article discussing the challenges in differentiating opticospinal MS from seronegative NMOSD, published in the Journal of Neurology.
Distinguishing aquaporin-4 IgG(AQP4-IgG)-negative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) from opticospinal predominant multiple sclerosis (MS) is a clinical challenge with important treatment implications. The objective of the study was to examine whether expert clinicians diagnose and treat NMO/MS overlapping patients in a similar way. 12 AQP4-IgG-negative patients were selected to cover the range of clinical scenarios encountered in an NMO clinic. 27 NMO and MS experts reviewed their clinical vignettes, including relevant imaging and laboratory tests. Diagnoses were categorized into four groups (NMO, MS, indeterminate, other) and management into three groups (MS drugs, immunosuppression, no treatment). The mean proportion of agreement for the diagnosis was low (p o = 0.51) and ranged from 0.25 to 0.73 for individual patients. The majority opinion was divided between NMOSD versus: MS (nine cases), monophasic longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM) (1), acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) (1) and recurrent isolated optic neuritis (RION) (1). Typical NMO features (e.g., LETM) influenced the diagnosis more than features more consistent with MS (e.g., short TM). Agreement on the treatment of patients was higher (p o = 0.64) than that on the diagnosis with immunosuppression being the most common choice not only in patients with the diagnosis of NMO (98 %) but also in those indeterminate between NMO and MS (74 %). The diagnosis in AQP4-IgG-negative NMO/MS overlap syndromes is challenging and diverse. The classification of such patients currently requires new diagnostic categories, which incorporate lesser degrees of diagnostic confidence. Long-term follow-up may identify early features or biomarkers, which can more accurately distinguish the underlying disorder.
A report about the use of alemtuzumab in NMO-SD in Cambridge, published in the Journal of Neurology.
Alemtuzumab is an anti-CD52 monoclonal antibody recently licensed for use in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis. Here, we report our experience of its use in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) spectrum disorders. A retrospective case review of patients treated with alemtuzumab in Cambridge, UK, was conducted to identify those who fulfil the criteria for NMO spectrum disorder. Three cases were identified. Case 1, 9-year-old female, presented with transverse myelitis and bilateral optic neuritis, with one lower medullary and several longitudinally extensive cord lesions. Despite immunosuppression including two courses of alemtuzumab, she continued to relapse, was wheelchair bound and registered blind by age 12, and died at age 18. Case 2, 41-year-old female, presented with bilateral optic neuritis and transverse myelitis with longitudinally extensive cervical cord lesions. Despite three courses of alemtuzumab, she had five relapses with visual impairment and new cord lesions. She later developed tumefactive white matter lesions and died aged 51. Case 3, 31-year-old female, presented with transverse myelitis with longitudinally extensive cervical cord lesions and positive aquaporin-4 antibody. After one course of alemtuzumab, she relapsed with 4 episodes of myelitis with new enhancing lesions and accumulating disability. She became relapse free after rituximab and mycophenolate mofetil. From this case series, we conclude that alemtuzumab failed to prevent disabling relapses and poor outcome in NMO. We hypothesise that rituximab is more effective, as in case 3, because it causes much more prolonged B lymphocyte depletion than alemtuzumab. We therefore caution against the use of alemtuzumab in NMO.