Identifying responders and nonresponders to interferon therapy in multiple sclerosis
Luca Prosperini,1 Marco Capobianco,2 Costanza Giannì3
1Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy; 2Regional Multiple Sclerosis Centre, University Hospital San Luigi Gonzaga, Orbassano, Italy; 3Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Abstract: Interferon beta is a well established disease-modifying agent used for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Despite treatment, a relevant proportion of patients continue to experience clinical (ie, relapses, worsening of disability) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) activity. Early identification of responders and nonresponders to interferon beta is strongly recommended to select patients who need a prompt switch to another disease-modifying agent and to ultimately avoid accumulation of fixed disability over time. Detecting responders and nonresponders to interferon beta can be challenging, mainly because of the lack of a clear and shared clinical definition of response to treatment. Clinical features at the start of treatment should be considered as prognostic factors, but MRI parameters assessed during treatment, such as contrast-enhancing lesions or new T2-hyperintense lesions, may be sensitive markers of response to interferon beta. Quantitative scoring systems derived from a combination of relapses and MRI activity have recently been proposed as practical tools for use in the everyday clinical setting. Blood biomarkers, such as neutralizing antibodies to interferon beta and Myxovirus resistance protein A, provide further useful information for detecting responders and nonresponders to interferon beta. However, since the presence of neutralizing antibodies can only partially explain the nonresponse to interferon beta, biomarkers of interferon beta activity possibly related to the pathogenesis of the disease could represent a future step toward a tailored, long-lasting effective treatment against multiple sclerosis.
Keywords: interferon beta, responders, nonresponders, multiple sclerosis
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