Key Differences Found Between Pediatric- and Adult-Onset MS

Erik Greb

March 02, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida —  Patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (POMS) have less higher education and greater use of high-efficacy disease-modifying therapy (DMT), compared with patients with adult-onset MS (AOMS), according to data presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis Forum 2020.

Among patients with POMS, researchers also have observed an association between fatigue and mood disorders on one hand and DMT choice on the other.

"These findings confirm the unique features of POMS and suggest that DMT choice in POMS and AOMS may influence the frequency of fatigue and mood disorders," said Mary Rensel, MD, staff neurologist in neuroimmunology at Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research, and colleagues.

POMS is defined as MS onset before age 18, and the disease characteristics of POMS and AOMS are distinct. The former diagnosis is rare, which has limited the amount of data collected on POMS to date.

MS Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions (MS-PATHS), sponsored by Biogen, is a multicenter initiative in which researchers collect MS performance measures longitudinally at each patient visit. MS-PATHS data include sociodemographic information, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), functional outcomes (FOs), MS phenotype, and DMT.

Using MS-PATHS data, Rensel and colleagues sought to determine differences in sociodemographics, MS phenotype, PRO, FO, and DMT among patients with POMS and between patients with POMS and those with AOMS.

The investigators analyzed data cut 9 of the MS-PATHS database for their study. They included 637 participants with POMS and matched them with patients with AOMS, based on disease duration, in a 1:5 ratio. DMTs were categorized as high, mid, or low efficacy.

They calculated descriptive statistics to characterize the study population. In addition, they compared MS FOs and PROs in the matched cohort using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. Finally, linear regression analysis allowed the investigators to identify differences in the data set, while adjusting for important covariates.

The matched cohort included 5,857 patients with AOMS and 600 patients with POMS. The patients with AOMS had an average age of 49.8 years. About 87.5% of these patients were white, and 73.5% were female. The POMS patients had an average age of 31.49 years. Overall, 76.7% of these patients were white, and 73.2% were female.

Rensel and colleagues found significant differences between the two groups in age at encounter, disease duration, race, insurance, Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS), education, employment, FOs, PROs, and DMT.

Patients with POMS used high-efficacy DMT more frequently than those with AOMS. The rate of depression was similar between patients with AOMS and those with POMS. Depression, anxiety, and fatigue were associated with DMT potency in AOMS, and anxiety and fatigue were associated with DMT groups in POMS.

Racial differences between POMS and AOMS have been reported previously, she said. First-generation immigrant children have an increased risk of POMS, compared with other children. "In our data set, we had more Asians, more blacks, and fewer Caucasians in the POMS group," Rensel said.

People from a socioeconomically challenged environment have an increased risk of POMS, and this observation may explain the difference in insurance coverage between the POMS and AOMS groups, she added. Socioeconomic challenges also may explain the difference in the rate of higher education between the two groups.

"Why were the POMS cases associated with higher-efficacy DMT when only one oral MS DMT is [Food and Drug Administration]-approved for POMS?" Rensel asked. "This is likely due to the fact that POMS cases tend to have higher disease activity with more relapses and more brain lesions, leading to the choice of higher efficacy DMTs that are currently not FDA-approved for POMS."

These data "may help [clinicians] caring for kids and teens, especially non-Caucasian [patients], to consider MS on the differential diagnosis," she added. "Mood disorders in POMS were as common as mood disorders in AOMS, so these should be screened for in this POMS population."

Rensel has received funding for consulting, research, or patient education from Biogen, Genentech, Genzyme, Medimmune, MSAA, NMSS, Novartis, Serono, and Teva.

Source: 5th annual Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2020. Abstract P042.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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