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Exploring potential mechanisms of action of natalizumab in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

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Published:2nd Jan 2016
Author: Sellebjerg F, Cadavid D, Steiner D, Villar LM, Reynolds R, Mikol D.
Ref.:Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2016 Jan;9(1):31-43.
Exploring potential mechanisms of action of natalizumab in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common and chronic central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating disease and a leading cause of permanent disability. Patients most often present with a relapsing-remitting disease course, typically progressing over time to a phase of relentless advancement in secondary progressive MS (SPMS), for which approved disease-modifying therapies are limited. In this review, we summarize the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in the development of SPMS and the rationale and clinical potential for natalizumab, which is currently approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS, to exert beneficial effects in reducing disease progression unrelated to relapses in SPMS. In both forms of MS, active brain-tissue injury is associated with inflammation; but in SPMS, the inflammatory response occurs at least partly behind the blood-brain barrier and is followed by a cascade of events, including persistent microglial activation that may lead to chronic demyelination and neurodegeneration associated with irreversible disability. In patients with relapsing forms of MS, natalizumab therapy is known to significantly reduce intrathecal inflammatory responses which results in reductions in brain lesions and brain atrophy as well as beneficial effects on clinical measures, such as reduced frequency and severity of relapse and reduced accumulation of disability. Natalizumab treatment also reduces levels of cerebrospinal fluid chemokines and other biomarkers of intrathecal inflammation, axonal damage and demyelination, and has demonstrated the ability to reduce innate immune activation and intrathecal immunoglobulin synthesis in patients with MS. The efficacy of natalizumab therapy in SPMS is currently being investigated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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