Interferons limit cognitive Impairment

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Does interferon-beta delay the progression of cognitive impairment in RRMS? #MSBlog #MSResearch

“The study below is reassuring for two reasons. Firstly, the prevalence of cognitive impairment in RRMSers is relatively low when compared to other publications, i.e. 18%, and only increased by a modest 4% over a 5-year period. Secondly, treatment with a higher dose of interferon-beta seemed to reduce your chances of progressive cognitive impairment. The differences between these doses of IFNbeta and clinical outcomes, i.e. relapses and disease progressions, is small; therefore seeing an impact on cognitive impairment is surprising. Despite this the overall messages seems to be that DMTs, in particular IFNbeta, seems to to delay the progression of cognitive impairment in RRMS.”


Patti et al. Subcutaneous Interferon β-1a May Protect against Cognitive Impairment in Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: 5-Year Follow-up of the COGIMUS Study.PLoS One. 2013 Aug 30;8(8):e74111.


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of subcutaneous (sc) interferon (IFN) -1a on cognition over 5 years in mildly disabled RRMSers.

METHODS: MSers aged 18-50 years with RRMS (Expanded Disability Status Scale score ≤4.0) who had completed the 3-year COGIMUS study underwent standardized magnetic resonance imaging, neurological examination, and neuropsychological testing at years 4 and 5. Predictors of cognitive impairment at year 5 were identified using multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: Of 331 MSers who completed the 3-year COGIMUS study, 265 participated in the 2-year extension study, 201 of whom (75.8%; sc IFN β-1a three times weekly: 44 µg, n = 108; 22 µg, n = 93) completed 5 years’ follow-up. The proportion of MSers with cognitive impairment in the study population overall remained stable between baseline (18.0%) and year 5 (22.6%). The proportion of MSers with cognitive impairment also remained stable in both treatment groups between baseline and year 5, and between year 3 and year 5. However, a significantly higher proportion of men than women had cognitive impairment at year 5 (26.5% vs 14.4%, p = 0.046). Treatment with the 22 versus 44 µg dose was predictive of cognitive impairment at year 5 (hazard ratio 0.68; 95% confidence interval 0.48-0.97).

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that sc IFN β-1a dose-dependently stabilizes or delays cognitive impairment over a 5-year period in most patients with mild RRMS. Women seem to be more protected against developing cognitive impairment, which may indicate greater response to therapy or the inherently better prognosis associated with female sex in MS.

CoI: multiple

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Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

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