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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Nov 10;(11):CD003280. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003280.pub3.

Immunomodulatory treatment other than corticosteroids, immunoglobulin and plasma exchange for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, UK, SE5 9RS.



Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy is a disease causing progressive or relapsing and remitting weakness and numbness. It is probably due to an autoimmune process. Immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory drugs would be expected to be beneficial.


We aimed to review systematically the evidence from randomised trials of cytotoxic drugs and interferons other than corticosteroids, immunoglobulin and plasma exchange for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy.


We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialised Register (May 2010), The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, Issue 2), MEDLINE (January 1977 to May 2010), EMBASE (January 1980 to May 2010), CINAHL (January 1982 to May 2010) and LILACS (January 1982 to May 2010). We contacted the authors of the trials identified and other disease experts seeking other published and unpublished trials.


We sought randomised and quasi-randomised trials of all immunosuppressive agents such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, ciclosporin A, mycophenolate mofetil, and rituximab and all immunomodulatory agents such as interferon alfa and interferon beta in participants fulfilling standard diagnostic criteria for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy.


Two authors independently selected trials, judged their methodological quality and extracted data. We wanted to measure the change in disability after one year as our primary outcome. Our secondary outcomes were change in disability after four or more weeks (from randomisation), change in impairment after at least one year, change in maximum motor nerve conduction velocity and compound muscle action potential amplitude after one year and for those participants who were receiving corticosteroids or intravenous immunoglobulin, the amount of this medication given during at least one year after randomisation. Participants with one or more serious adverse events during the first year was also a secondary outcome.


Four trials fulfilled the selection criteria, one of azathioprine (27 participants), two of interferon beta-1a (77 participants in total) and one of methotrexate (60 participants). None of these trials showed significant benefit in the primary outcome or secondary outcomes selected for this review.


The evidence from randomised trials does not show significant benefit from azathioprine, interferon beta-1a or methotrexate but none of the trials was large enough to rule out small or moderate benefit. The evidence from observational studies is insufficient to avoid the need for randomised controlled trials to discover whether these drugs are beneficial. Future trials should have improved designs, more sensitive outcome measures and longer durations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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