Brainstem and cerebellar involvement in MOG-IgG-associated disorder versus aquaporin-4-IgG and MS

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2020 Dec 28:jnnp-2020-325121. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2020-325121. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To determine the frequency and characteristics of brainstem or cerebellar involvement in myelin-oligodendrocyte-glycoprotein-antibody-associated-disorder (MOGAD) versus aquaporin-4-IgG-seropositive-neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (AQP4-IgG-NMOSD) and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: In this observational study, we retrospectively identified 185 Mayo Clinic MOGAD patients with: (1) characteristic MOGAD phenotype, (2) MOG-IgG seropositivity by live cell-based assay and (3) MRI lesion(s) of brainstem, cerebellum or both. We compared the symptomatic attacks to AQP4-IgG-NMOSD (n=30) and MS (n=30).

Results: Brainstem or cerebellar involvement occurred in 62/185 (34%) MOGAD patients of which 39/62 (63%) were symptomatic. Ataxia (45%) and diplopia (26%) were common manifestations. The median age in years (range) in MOGAD of 24 (2-65) was younger than MS at 36 (16-65; p=0.046) and AQP4-IgG-NMOSD at 45 (6-72; p=0.006). Isolated attacks involving the brainstem, cerebellum or both were less frequent in MOGAD (9/39 (23%)) than MS (22/30 (73%); p<0.001) but not significantly different from AQP4-IgG-NMOSD (14/30 (47%); p=0.07). Diffuse middle cerebellar peduncle MRI-lesions favoured MOGAD (17/37 (46%)) over MS (3/30 (10%); p=0.001) and AQP4-IgG-NMOSD (3/30 (10%); p=0.001). Diffuse medulla, pons or midbrain MRI lesions occasionally occurred in MOGAD and AQP4-IgG-NMOSD but never in MS. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) oligoclonal bands were rare in MOGAD (5/30 (17%)) and AQP4-IgG-NMOSD (2/22 (9%); p=0.68) but common in MS (18/22 (82%); p<0.001). Disability at nadir or recovery did not differ between the groups.

Conclusion: Involvement of the brainstem, cerebellum or both is common in MOGAD but usually occurs as a component of a multifocal central nervous system attack rather than in isolation. We identified clinical, CSF and MRI attributes that can help discriminate MOGAD from AQP4-IgG-NMOSD and MS.