Multiple sclerosis-like NMOSD patients suffer severe worsening of status after fingolimod initiation

Mickael Bonnan, Emeline Berthelot, Philippe Cabre
Multiple Sclerosis and related Disorders 2021 April 24, 52: 102975

BACKGROUND: Initial clinical manifestations of NMOSD may rarely overlap with MS. Fingolimod may trigger severe attacks in patients with NMOSD previously misdiagnosed as MS. These cases are rare and their pathophysiology remains elusive.

METHODS: We recruited all NMOSD patients treated by fingolimod in a single-center cohort of Afro-Caribbean neuro-inflammatory patients in Fort-de-France (French West Indies). Six patients were collected from the literature.

RESULTS: Among 622 patients followed locally for MS, 101 received fingolimod and two suffered severe attacks revealing a typical NMOSD presentation. These two patients were found to have AQP4-IgG. The risk of misdiagnosed NMOSD in MS in our high-risk Afro-Caribbean patients was estimated to be 1.9% (0 to 4.7%). Among the whole cohort, relapses occurred within a month after fingolimod initiation in five patients. All attacks were severe and contrasted with previously benign attacks, suggesting a shift to a more severe disorder. An unusual finding in these patients was large brain lesions.

CONCLUSION: AQP4-IgG should be obtained before initiation of fingolimod in high-risk patients, especially in those from areas of high NMOSD prevalence.

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