Clinical Correlation of Multiple Sclerosis Immunopathologic Subtypes

Background and Objectives

The goal of this work was to compare clinical characteristics across immunopathologic subtypes of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Methods

Immunopathologic subtyping was performed on specimens from 547 patients with biopsy- or autopsy-confirmed CNS demyelination.

Results

The frequency of immunopathologic subtypes was 23% for pattern I, 56% for pattern II, and 22% for pattern III. Immunopatterns were similar in terms of age at autopsy/biopsy (median age 41 years, range 4–83 years, p = 0.16) and proportion female (54%, p = 0.71). Median follow-up after symptom onset was 2.3 years (range 0–38 years). In addition to being overrepresented among autopsy cases (45% vs 19% in biopsy cohort, p < 0.001), index attack-related disability was higher in pattern III vs II (median Expanded Disability Status Scale score 4 vs 3, p = 0.02). Monophasic clinical course was more common in patients with pattern III than pattern I or II (59% vs 33% vs 32%, p < 0.001). Similarly, patients with pattern III pathology were likely to have progressive disease compared to patients with patterns I or II when followed up for ≥5 years (24% overall, p = 0.49), with no differences in long-term survival, despite a more fulminant attack presentation.

Conclusion

All 3 immunopatterns can be detected in active lesions, although they are found less frequently later into the disease due to the lower number of active lesions. Pattern III is associated with a more fulminant initial attack than either pattern I or II. Biopsied patients appear to have similar long-term outcomes regardless of their immunopatterns. Progressive disease is less associated with the initial immunopattern and suggests convergence into a final common pathway related to the chronically denuded axon.

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