Background: Multiple Sclerosis is more common in women than men and females have more relapses than men. In a large international cohort we have evaluated the effect of gender on disability accumulation and disease progression to determine if male MS patients have a worse clinical outcome than females.
Methods: Using the MSBase Registry, data from 15,826 MS patients from 25 countries was analysed. Changes in the severity of MS (EDSS) were compared between sexes using a repeated measures analysis in generalised linear mixed models. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to test for sex difference in the time to reach EDSS milestones 3 and 6 and the secondary progressive MS.
Results: In relapse onset MS patients (n = 14,453), males progressed significantly faster in their EDSS than females (0.133 vs 0.112 per year, P<0.001,). Females had a reduced risk of secondary progressive MS (HR (95% CI) = 0.77 (0.67 to 0.90) P = 0.001). In primary progressive MS (n = 1,373), there was a significant increase in EDSS over time in males and females (P<0.001) but there was no significant sex effect on the annualized rate of EDSS change.
Conclusion: Among registrants of MSBase, male relapse-onset patients accumulate disability faster than female patients. In contrast, the rate of disability accumulation between male and female patients with primary progressive MS is similar.