Effect of siponimod on magnetic resonance imaging measures of neurodegeneration and myelination in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: Gray matter atrophy and magnetization transfer ratio analyses from the EXPAND phase 3 trial

Mult Scler. 2022 Mar 9;13524585221076717. doi: 10.1177/13524585221076717. Online ahead of print.


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of gray matter (GM) atrophy and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR; correlate of myelination) may provide better insights than conventional MRI regarding brain tissue integrity/myelination in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objective: To examine the effect of siponimod in the EXPAND trial on whole-brain and GM atrophy, newly formed normalized magnetization transfer ratio (nMTR) lesions, and nMTR-assessed integrity of normal-appearing brain tissue (NABT), cortical GM (cGM), and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM).

Methods: Patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) received siponimod (2 mg/day; n =1037) or placebo (n = 523). Endpoints included percentage change from baseline to months 12/24 in whole-brain, cGM, and thalamic volumes; change in nMTR from baseline to months 12/24 in NABT, cGM, and NAWM; MTR recovery in newly formed lesions.

Results: Compared with placebo, siponimod significantly reduced progression of whole-brain and GM atrophy over 12/24 months, and was associated with improvements in brain tissue integrity/myelination within newly formed nMTR lesions and across NABT, cGM, and NAWM over 24 months. Effects were consistent across age, disease duration, inflammatory activity subgroups, and disease severity.

Conclusion: Siponimod reduced brain tissue damage in patients with SPMS as evidenced by objective measures of brain tissue integrity/myelination. This is consistent with central nervous system (CNS) effects observed in preclinical models. ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT01665144.

Keywords: MRI; Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis; brain integrity; gray matter; magnetization transfer ratio; myelination; siponimod.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01665144