Older age at multiple sclerosis (MS) onset has been associated with worse 10-year outcomes. However, disease duration often exceeds 10 years and age-related comorbidities may also contribute to disability. We investigated patients with>10 years disease duration to determine how age at MS onset is associated with clinical, MRI and occupational outcomes at age 50.
We included patients enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital with disease duration>10 years. Outcomes at age 50 included the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), development of secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), brain T2-lesion volume (T2LV) and brain parenchymal fraction (BPF), and occupational status. We assessed how onset age was independently associated with each outcome when adjusting for the date of visit closest to age 50, sex, time to first treatment, number of treatments by age 50 and exposure to high-efficacy treatments by age 50.
We included 661 patients with median onset at 31.4 years. The outcomes at age 50 were worse the younger first symptoms developed: for every 5 years earlier, the EDSS was 0.22 points worse (95% CI: 0.04 to 0.40; p=0.015), odds of SPMS 1.33 times higher (95% CI: 1.08 to 1.64; p=0.008), T2LV 1.86 mL higher (95% CI: 1.02 to 2.70; p<0.001), BPF 0.97% worse (95% CI: 0.52 to 1.42; p<0.001) and odds of unemployment from MS 1.24 times higher (95% CI: 1.01 to 1.53; p=0.037).
All outcomes at age 50 were worse in patients with younger age at onset. Decisions to provide high-efficacy treatments should consider younger age at onset, equating to a longer expected disease duration, as a poor prognostic factor.