Background: Glatiramer acetate (GA) 40 mg × 3/weekly was approved for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). While the beneficial effect of GA 20 mg/daily in MS patients on non-conventional MRI measures has been demonstrated, the effect of GA 40 mg × 3/weekly at the microstructural tissue level has yet to be explored.
Objective: To investigate the effect of switching from GA 20 mg/daily to GA 40 mg × 3/weekly on the evolution of microstructural changes in the thalamus and normal appearing white matter (NAWM), using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Methods: In this observational, longitudinal, cross-over, 34-month MRI study, we recruited 150 RRMS patients that underwent MRI 12-18 months before switching (pre-index), during the switch (index) and 12-18 months after switching (post-index) from GA 20 mg/daily to GA 40 mg × 3/weekly. Regional DTI metrics and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analyses were performed. Mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were measured in thalamus and NAWM.
Results: Regional DTI measures, measures of whole brain, white and gray matter, and thalamus volumes, as well as lesion volume, showed no significant changes. However, the voxel-wise TBSS analysis showed increased FA both in the NAWM and thalamus, as well as increased MD and AD in NAWM, and decreased RD in NAWM (p < .05). Areas of increased FA and MD as well as decreased RD in the NAWM, and increased AD both in the NAWM and thalamus were detected between index to post-index (p < .05).
Conclusions: This study confirms a comparable effect of GA 40 mg × 3/weekly to GA 20 mg/daily on DTI measures over 34 months.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02308670.
Keywords: DTI; GM; Glatiramer acetate; MRI; Multiple sclerosis; Tract based spatial statistics; WM.
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