- •Disability in NMOSD results from relapsing attacks.
- •Long-standing NMOSD is usually associated with severe disability.
- •A small proportion of patients remained fully functional in all systems 15 years after disease onset.
- •ARR 0.4 was the boundary line above which severe disability occurred.
- •Good prognosis associated with Caucasians, low ARR, and absent myelitis at disease onset.
Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) most commonly cause severe disability which is related to disease attacks. However, some patients retain good neurological function for a long time after disease onset.
To determine the frequency, demographic and the clinical features of good outcome NMOSD, and analyze their predictive factors.
We selected patients who met the 2015 International Panel for NMOSD diagnostic criteria from seven MS Centers. Assessed data included age at disease onset, sex, race, number of attacks within the first and three years from onset, annualized relapsing rate (ARR), total number of attacks, aquaporin-IgG serum status, presence of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-specific oligoclonal bands (OCB) and the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score at the last follow-up visit. NMOSD was classified as non-benign if patients developed sustained EDSS score >3.0 during the disease course, or benign if patients had EDSS score ≤3.0 after ≥15 years from disease onset. Patients with EDSS <3.0 and disease duration shorter than 15 years were not qualified for classification. We compared the demographic and clinical characteristics of benign and non-benign NMOSD. Logistic regression analysis identified predictive factors of outcome.
There were 16 patients with benign NMOSD (3% of the entire cohort; 4.2% of those qualified for classification; and 4.1% of those who tested positive for aquaporin 4-IgG), and 362 (67.7%) with non-benign NMOSD, whereas 157 (29.3%) did not qualify for classification. All patients with benign NMOSD were female, 75% were Caucasian, 75% tested positive for AQP4-IgG, and 28.6% had CSF-specific OCB. Regression analysis showed that female sex, pediatric onset, and optic neuritis, area postrema syndrome, and brainstem symptoms at disease onset, as well as fewer relapses in the first year and three years from onset, and CSF-specific OCB were more commonly found in benign NMOSD, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Conversely, non-Caucasian race (OR: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.07–0.99; p = 0.038), myelitis at disease presentation (OR: 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01–0.52; p <0.001), and high ARR (OR: 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01–0.67; p = 0.011) were negative risk factors for benign NMOSD.
Benign NMOSD is very rare and occurs more frequently in Caucasians, patients with low ARR, and those who do not have myelitis at disease onset.
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Published online: April 24, 2023
Accepted: April 23, 2023
Received in revised form: March 16, 2023
Received: February 2, 2023
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