Disease-Modifying Treatments and Time to Loss of Ambulatory Function in Patients With Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

JAMA Neurol. 2022 Sep 1;79(9):869-878. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.1929.


Importance: Except for ocrelizumab, treatment options in primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) are lacking.

Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of DMTs on the risk of becoming wheelchair dependent in a real-world population of patients with PPMS.

Design, setting, and participants: This was a multicenter, observational, retrospective, comparative effectiveness research study. Data were extracted on November 28, 2018, from the Italian multiple sclerosis register and analyzed from June to December 2021. Mean study follow-up was 11 years. Included in the study cohort were patients with a diagnosis of PPMS and at least 3 years of Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) evaluations and 3 years of follow-up.

Main outcomes and measures: The risk of reaching an EDSS score of 7.0 was assessed through multivariable Cox regression models.

Exposures: Patients who received DMT before the outcome were considered treated. DMT was assessed as a time-dependent variable and by class of DMT (moderately and highly effective).

Results: From a total of 3298 patients with PPMS, 2633 were excluded because they did not meet the entry criteria for the phase 3, multicenter, randomized, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ocrelizumab in adults with PPMS (ORATORIO) trial. Among the remaining 665 patients (mean [SD] age, 43.0 [10.7] years; 366 female patients [55.0%]), 409 were further selected for propensity score matching (288 treated and 121 untreated patients). In the matched cohort, during the study follow-up, 37% of patients (152 of 409) reached an EDSS score of 7.0 after a mean (SD) follow-up of 10.6 (5.6) years. A higher EDSS score at baseline (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.32; 95% CI, 1.13-1.55; P < .001), superimposed relapses (aHR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.24-4.54; P = .009), and DMT exposure (aHR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.04-2.94; P = .03) were associated with a higher risk of an EDSS score of 7.0, whereas the interaction term between DMT and superimposed relapses was associated with a reduced risk of EDSS score of 7.0 (aHR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.16-0.71; P = .004). Similar findings were obtained when treatment according to DMT class was considered and when DMT was included as a time-dependent covariate. These results were confirmed in the subgroup of patients with available magnetic resonance imaging data.

Conclusions and relevance: Results of this comparative effectiveness research study suggest that inflammation also occurs in patients with PPMS, may contribute to long-term disability, and may be associated with a reduced risk of becoming wheelchair dependent by current licensed DMTs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive* / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies