Association of age and inflammatory disease activity in the pivotal natalizumab clinical trials in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry


washington; swedish; swedish neuro


BACKGROUND: Focal inflammatory disease activity in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) diminishes with increasing age. Here we use patient-level data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of natalizumab treatment in RRMS to investigate the association of age and inflammatory disease activity.

METHODS: We used patient-level data from the AFFIRM (natalizumab vs placebo in relapsing-remitting MS, NCT00027300) and SENTINEL (natalizumab plus interferon beta vs interferon beta in relapsing remitting MS, NCT00030966) RCTs. We determined the proportion of participants developing new T2 lesions, contrast-enhancing lesions (CELs) and relapses over 2 years of follow-up as a function of age, and investigated the association of age with time to first relapse using time-to-event analyses.

RESULTS: At baseline, there were no differences between age groups in T2 lesion volume and number of relapses in the year before inclusion. In SENTINEL, older participants had a significantly lower number of CELs. During both trials, the number of new CELs and the proportion of participants developing new CELs were significantly lower in older age groups. The number of new T2 lesions and the proportion of participants with any radiological disease activity during follow-up were also lower in older age groups, especially in the control arms.

CONCLUSIONS: Older age is associated with a lower prevalence and degree of focal inflammatory disease activity in treated and untreated RRMS. Our findings inform the design of RCTs, and suggest that patient age should be taken into consideration when deciding on immunomodulatory treatment in RRMS.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)