WEST PALM BEACH, FL — Depression may indicate an increased risk for future disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS), according to study results presented at the 2020 Forum for Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis held February 27-29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Depression is common in MS; however, the association between depression and MS disease activity remains unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association of depression with short-term neurological outcomes in a large cohort of patients with MS.

Researchers used a patient registry from 10 MS centers to obtain standardized clinical data (N=1923) from baseline and 12-month follow-up visits. They analyzed demographic data, patient-reported outcomes, neuroperformance scores, and magnetic resonance imaging metrics and used baseline covariates to perform propensity score weighting with baseline depression status as the exposure. The researchers determined odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of worsened neuroperformance scores, new relapses, and new magnetic resonance imaging activity at follow-up through multivariate logistic regression.

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There was an adequate overlap between patients with depression and patients without depression on baseline neuroperformance scores and disease characteristics. At month 12, when compared with patients without depression, patients with baseline depression had higher odds of  ≥20% worsening on 1 or more components of neuroperformance score (OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.05-1.89), new T2 lesions (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 0.68-3.27), relapses (OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 0.89-1.87), and new contrast-enhancing lesions (OR, 1.54; 95% CI, 0.53-4.42).

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The researchers concluded that patients with both MS and depression experience worsening in neurological function, relapses, and lesions activity after 1 year compared with patients without depression and that depression may be a risk factor for future disease activity in MS.


Feng JJ, Cohen JA, Ontaneda D. Depression in MS is associated with worsening neuroperformance, relapses, and new brain lesions. Presented at: ACTRIMS Forum 2020; February 27-29, 2020; West Palm Beach, FL. Abstract P226.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor