Background: This is an updated Cochrane review of the previous published version.Mitoxantrone (MX) has been shown to be moderately effective in reducing the clinical outcome measures of disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Objectives: The main objective was to assess the efficacy and safety of MX compared to a control group in relapsing-remitting (RRMS), progressive relapsing (PRMS) and secondary progressive (SPMS) MS participants.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Multiple Sclerosis and Rare Diseases of the Central Nervous System Group Specialised Register (June 2012) and reference lists of articles. We also undertook handsearching and contacted trialists and pharmaceutical companies.
Selection criteria: Randomised, double-blinded, controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the administration of MX versus placebo or MX plus steroids treatment versus placebo plus steroids treatment were included.
Data collection and analysis: The review authors independently selected articles for inclusion. They independently extracted clinical, safety and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, resolving disagreements by discussion. Risk of bias was evaluated to assess the quality of the studies. Treatment effect was measured using odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the binary outcomes and mean differences (MD) with 95% CI for the continuous outcomes. If heterogeneity was absent, a fixed-effect model was used.
Main results: Three trials were selected and 221 participants were included in the analyses. MX reduced the progression of disability at two years follow-up (proportion of participants with six months confirmed progression of disability (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.99 and MD -0.36, 95% CI- 0.70 to -0.02; P = 0.04)). Significant results were found regarding the reduction in annualised relapse rate (MD -0.85, 95% CI -1.47 to -0.23; P = 0.007), the proportion of patients free from relapses at one year (OR 7.13, 95% CI 2.06 to 24.61; P = 0.002) and two years (OR 2.82, 95% CI 1.54 to 5.19; P = 0.0008), and the number of patients with active MRI lesions at six months or one year only (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.57; P = 0.001). Side effects reported in the trials (amenorrhoea, nausea and vomiting, alopecia and urinary tract infections) were more frequent in treated patients than in controls, while no major adverse events have been reported. These results should be considered with caution because of the heterogeneous characteristics of included trials in term of drug dosage, inclusion criteria and quality of included trials. Moreover, it was not possible to estimate the long-term efficacy and safety of MX.
Authors' conclusions: MX shows a significant but partial efficacy in reducing the risk of MS progression and the frequency of relapses in patients affected by worsening RRMS, PRMS and SPMS in the short-term follow-up (two years). No major neoplastic events or symptomatic cardiotoxicity related to MX have been reported; however studies with longer follow-up (not included in this review) have raised concerns about the risk of systolic disfunction (˜12%) and therapy-related acute leukaemias (0.8%), which are increasingly reported in the literature.MX should be limited to treating patients with worsening RRMS and SPMS and with evidence of persistent inflammatory activity after a careful assessment of the individual patients' risk and benefit profiles. Assessment should also consider the present availability of alternative therapies with less severe adverse events.