Research: childhood-onset vs. adult-onset MS

EpubPichler et al. Differences and similarities in the evolution of morphologic brain abnormalities between paediatric and adult-onset multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2012 Jun 19.

Background: Paediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (pMS) is MS occurring before the age of 18 years and may present and develop differently from adult-onset MS (aMS). Whether there are also differences regarding the accrual of brain changes is largely unknown.

Methods: This study compared the evolution of the T2- and T1-lesion load (LL), the black hole ratio (BHR), and annualised brain volume change (aBVC) between 21 pMS patients (age at onset: 14.4±2.3 years) and 21 aMS patients (age at onset: 29.4±6.5 years) matched for disease duration (pMS: 1.0±1.8 years; aMS: 1.6±1.7 years, p=0.27). Follow-up was for 4.2±3.7 years in pMS and 3.1±0.6 years in aMS. Clinical comparisons included the course of disability assessed with the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score and annualised relapse rate (ARR).

Results: At baseline, pMS and aMS had similar EDSS, T1-LL, BHR, whereas T2-LL was higher in aMS (aMS: 9.2±11.6 ccm; pMS: 4.1±6.2 ccm, p=0.02). The change of T2-LL and T1-LL during the observation period was similar in both groups. At follow-up, disability was lower in pMS (EDSS score in pMS: 0.9±0.9; aMS: 1.7±1.3, p=0.04), despite a significantly higher accrual of destructive brain lesions (BHR in pMS: 23.7±23.7%; aMS: 5.9±4.0%, p=0.02) and a similar rate of brain volume loss.

Conclusion: This study observed a more aggressive disease evolution paralleled by less disability in pMS than in aMS (defined using EDSS) suggests a higher compensatory capacity in pMS. This fact may obscure the need for treatment of pMS patients with disease modifying treatments (DMTs) based solely on clinical observation.

“Not surprising; the younger you are the more likely you are to recover from an insult. The corollary being the older you are the worse you are likely to do due to poor recovery mechanisms. This one of the reasons why we believe progressive MS may be driven by the ageing process.”

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