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Mult Scler. 2012 Apr;18(4):418-24. doi: 10.1177/1352458510394702. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Effect of disease-modifying drugs on cortical lesions and atrophy in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1The Multiple Sclerosis Centre of the Veneto Region, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Padova, Padova, Italy.



To measure the effects of disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) on the development of cortical lesions (CL) and cortical atrophy in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).


RRMS patients (n = 165) were randomized to subcutaneous (sc) interferon (IFN) beta-1a (44 mcg three times weekly), intramuscular (im) IFN beta-1a (30 mcg weekly) or glatiramer acetate (GA; 20 mg daily). The reference population comprised 50 untreated patients. Clinical and MRI examinations were performed at baseline, 12 months and 24 months.


One hundred and forty-one treated patients completed the study. After 12 months, 37/50 (74%) of untreated patients developed ≥ 1 new CL (mean 1.6), compared with 30/47 (64%) of im IFN beta-1a-treated patients (mean 1.2, p = 0.021), 24/48 (50%) of GA-treated patients (mean 0.8, p = 0.001) and 12/46 (26%) of sc IFN beta-1a-treated patients (mean 0.4, p < 0.001). After 24 months, ≥ 1 new CL was observed in 41/50 (82%) of untreated (mean 3.0), 34/47 (72%) of im IFN beta-1a-treated (mean 1.6, p < 0.001), 30/48 (62%) of GA-treated (mean 1.3, p < 0.001) and 24/46 (52%) of sc IFN beta-1a-treated patients (mean 0.8, p < 0.001). Mean grey matter fraction decrease in DMD-treated patients at 24 months ranged from 0.7 to 0.8 versus 1.0 in untreated patients (p = 0.023).


Disease-modifying drugs significantly decreased new CL development and cortical atrophy progression compared with untreated patients, with faster and more pronounced effects seen with sc IFN beta-1a than with im IFN beta-1a or GA.

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