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Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2010 Jul;3(4):217-28. doi: 10.1177/1756285610371251.

Therapeutic strategies in childhood multiple sclerosis.

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1
Centro Studi Sclerosi Multipla, Via Pastori 4, 21013 Gallarate, Cagliari, Italy.

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) in children and adolescents accounts for 3-10% of the whole MS population, and is characterized by a relapsing course in almost all cases. The frequency of relapses is higher than in adult onset MS, at least in the first years of evolution. The objective of treatment is to speed the recovery after a relapse, to prevent the occurrence of relapses, and to prevent disease progression and neurodegeneration. The use of drugs for MS in children and adolescents has not been studied in clinical trials, so their use is mainly based on results from trials in adults and from observational studies. There is a consensus to treat acute relapses with intravenous high-dose corticosteroids. The possibility of preventing relapses and disease progression is based on the use of immunomodulatory agents. Interferon-beta (IFNB) and glatiramer acetate (GA) have been demonstrated to be safe and well tolerated in pediatric MS patients, and also to reduce relapse rate and disease progression. Cyclophosphamide and natalizumab could be offered as second-line treatment in patients with a poor response to IFNB or GA. New oral and injectable drugs will be available in the near future: if safe and well tolerated in the long-term follow up of adults with MS, they could be tested in the pediatric MS population.

KEYWORDS:

adolescence; childhood; cyclophosphamide; glatiramer acetate; interferon beta; intravenous immunoglobulin; intravenous methylprednisolone; mitoxantrone; multiple sclerosis; natalizumab

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