Discontinuation of interferon beta therapy in multiple sclerosis patients with high pre-treatment disease activity leads to prompt return to previous disease activity

J Neurol Sci. 2011 Apr 15;303(1-2):50-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2011.01.016. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Background: A recommendation for the duration of interferon beta (IFNβ) treatment in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with a good response to this therapy has not been defined. Very limited data exist with regard to the effect of IFNβ discontinuation on the subsequent course of MS.

Objective: To assess clinical activity in MS relapsing-remitting (MS RR) patients with high pre-treatment activity who discontinued IFNβ treatment after approximately 2 years of treatment.

Methods: We determined the relapse rate and disability progression in 43 patients who discontinued IFNβ after ~25 months of treatment.

Results: Within ~34 months post-treatment 28 patients (65%) experienced at least one severe relapse, and 8 MS patients experienced a relapse within 30 days post IFNβ discontinuation. Disability progression measured by EDSS in the post-treatment period was 1.45±0.8 points per patient.

Conclusion: These results indicate that IFNβ did not induce a prolonged remission in MS patients and that disease activity returned to the previous rate within a short time after treatment cessation. Discontinuation of IFNβ treatment in high activity pre-treatment MS patients with good response to this therapy is not recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Recurrence


  • Interferon Type I
  • Recombinant Proteins