Deciphering Multiple Sclerosis Progression

Front Neurol. 2021 Apr 7;12:608491. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2021.608491. eCollection 2021.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is primarily an inflammatory and degenerative disease of the central nervous system, triggered by unknown environmental factors in patients with predisposing genetic risk profiles. The prevention of neurological disability is one of the essential goals to be achieved in a patient with MS. However, the pathogenic mechanisms driving the progressive phase of the disease remain unknown. It was described that the pathophysiological mechanisms associated with disease progression are present from disease onset. In daily practice, there is a lack of clinical, radiological, or biological markers that favor an early detection of the disease's progression. Different definitions of disability progression were used in clinical trials. According to the most descriptive, progression was defined as a minimum increase in the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) of 1.5, 1.0, or 0.5 from a baseline level of 0, 1.0-5.0, and 5.5, respectively. Nevertheless, the EDSS is not the most sensitive scale to assess progression, and there is no consensus regarding any specific diagnostic criteria for disability progression. This review document discusses the current pathophysiological concepts associated with MS progression, the different measurement strategies, the biomarkers associated with disability progression, and the available pharmacologic therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: MRI; multiple sclerosis; neurodegeneration; neurofilament; progressive multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review