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Effectiveness of oral prednisone tapering following intravenous methylprednisolone for acute optic neuritis in multiple sclerosis.

Acute optic neuritis treatment lacks standardized protocols. The value of oral prednisone taper (OPT) following intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP) on visual outcome parameters in optic neuritis (ON) has never been explored. In the present retrospective study, we investigated whether OPT after IVMP affects the structural and functional visual outcomes of inaugural clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)- or multiple sclerosis (MS)-ON. Adult patients with acute, inaugural, unilateral CIS- or MS-ON, treated with IVMP in Germany and Israel were stratified into patients treated with IVMP alone-versus IVMP and OPT. Inclusion criteria were age ≥18, CIS or MS diagnosis according to McDonald criteria 2017, available visual acuity (VA) at nadir before treatment initiation and at follow-up ≥5 months, as well as a spectral domain optic coherence tomography (OCT) data scan at follow-up. Exclusion criteria included recurrent ON, concomitant ophthalmological comorbidities, optical coherence tomography (OCT) of insufficient quality and ON-related escalation therapy after IVMP. The structural outcome was defined as the average retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) difference between the ON-affected and the unaffected eye, while the functional outcome was defined as the final high-contrast best-corrected VA (HC-BCVA) at follow-up compared to nadir. The comparative analysis was performed using linear regression analysis, adjusted for sex, age, and days-to-treatment. Fifty-one patients met the inclusion criteria (25% male). The mean age was 33.9 (±10.23) years. Twenty-six patients (51%) received OPT following IVMP. There was no difference in nadir HC-BCVA between the groups (0.39 No OPT; 0.49 With OPT, P = 0.36). Adjusted linear regression analysis did not indicate an influence of OPT on RNFL thickness or on HC-BCVA (beta coefficient for RNFL difference in percentages: 0.51, 95%-CI: [-4.58, 5.59], beta coefficient for logMAR: 0.11, 95%; CI [-0.12, 0.35] at follow-up. In conclusion, the addition of OPT to IVMP did not affect RNFL thickness or the final VA in a retrospective cohort of 51 patients with inaugural acute CIS- or MS-ON. The results of this exploratory study are currently being re-examined in a large-scale, demographically diverse, prospective study.

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