Response to disease modifying therapies in African Americans with multiple sclerosis

Ethn Dis. 2012 Spring;22(2):221-5.


Background: The African American (AA) population has a lower risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS) than Caucasian (CA) population; however, the disease tends to be more severe with early disability in AA. The reason underlying the discrepancy in disease severity is not yet understood, and it could be caused by different response to disease modifying therapies (DMTs).

Objective: To evaluate whether there are significant differences in profile of response to disease modifying therapies related to ethnicity, while controlling for disease characteristics.

Design: We performed a retrospective chart analysis of MS patients undergoing treatment with DMTs. Rating of disease progression was based on expanded disability status score (EDSS) difference at the time of first and last visit.

Patients: AA and CA patients with MS.

Results: Sex and age at the time of diagnosis did not differ significantly between AA and CA. There was statistically significant difference in disease duration, which was longer among CA patients (P < .001). Median of EDSS difference was higher in AA population than in CA population (P < .001). Increased EDSS difference suggests poorer response to DMTs among AA patients in our study.

Conclusions: AA patients showed poorer response to DMTs when compared with CA patients. This suggests a trend, however, further prospective studies on the response of AA patients to DMTs are warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / ethnology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • South Carolina
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whites*


  • Immunologic Factors