Clinical characteristics of a large multi-center cohort of people with multiple sclerosis over age 60

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021 Jan:47:102637. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2020.102637. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


Background: As the peak prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) shifts due to an aging patient population, understanding the characteristics that define this older cohort to improve overall management is critical. We sought to determine the clinical characteristics of people with MS over age 60.

Methods: Demographics, clinical characteristics, MS disease history, and Multiple Sclerosis Performance Test (MSPT) patient-reported outcomes and neuroperformance tests (NPTs) were collected from 10 academic MS centers in the US and Europe participating in the MS Partners Advancing Technology Health Solutions (MS PATHS) system. We characterized demographic and disease characteristics of included participants using descriptive statistics. We characterized prevalence of comorbidities and compared with estimated prevalences from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) respondents aged ≥60 years in 2017-2018.

Results: We identified 2738 individuals over age 60 from MS PATHS, with 58.1% relapsing-remitting (RR) and 41.9% progressive. Our results showed median age (RR=65.7 years, progressive=66.0 years), age of symptom onset (RR and progressive=40.9 years), and disease duration (RR=22.8 years, progressive=23.3 years). Over two-thirds of individuals in our cohort were treated with DMTs. The most common DMT used in RR patients were interferons (17.6%) and glatiramer acetate (16.3%), while glatiramer acetate was the most common (12.0%) in progressive patients. Progressive patients had higher disability (higher median PDDS scores, worse Neuro-Qol T-scores, and worse NPTs) compared to the RR group. Pain was the most common comorbidity, followed by cardiac disease, depression, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and obesity. Compared to older NHANES participants, older people with MS were more likely to have depression (MS PATHS: 51.5% [95% CI: 49.5% to 53.5%] vs. NHANES: 21.7% [95% CI: 1619.3% to 22.2%]) and osteoporosis (MS PATHS: 12.7% [95% CI: 11.3% to 14.1%] vs. NHANES: 8.2% [95% CI: 6.2% to 10.3%]); they were less likely to be obese (MS PATHS: 29.4% [95% CI: 27.7% to 31.2%] vs. NHANES: 45.1% [95% CI: 38.9% to 51.3%]) and have diabetes (MS PATHS: 12.3% [95% CI: 11.1% to 13.6%] vs. NHANES: 22.5% [95% CI: 18.8% to 25.7%]).

Conclusions: Our study characterizes a large multi-center international cohort of people with MS over age 60. This contemporary cohort appears less disabled than prior studies, which may reflect long term impact of DMT availability on the natural history of MS. The burden of comorbidity in this population was generally high. Information on DMT use, comorbidity, and disability outcome measures will be beneficial in future studies evaluating the impact of therapeutic interventions in older individuals.

Keywords: Aged; Comorbidity; Disability; Multiple sclerosis; Patient-reported outcomes measures; Quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Europe
  • Glatiramer Acetate
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / epidemiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting*
  • Nutrition Surveys


  • Glatiramer Acetate