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Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2016 Oct 24;3(6):e286. eCollection 2016 Dec.

Insufficient treatment of severe depression in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.

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NeuroCure Clinical Research Center (V.S.C., A.L., F. Pache, F. Paul, A.U.B.), Clinical and Experimental Multiple Sclerosis Research Center, Department of Neurology (F. Pache, K.R., F. Paul), and Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Benjamin Franklin (S.M.G.), Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany; Department of Neurology (M.A.M., A.S., M.L.), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; Experimental and Clinical Research Center (F. Paul), Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin; and Institute of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis (INIMS) (S.M.G.), Center for Molecular Neurobiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany.



To investigate depression frequency, severity, current treatment, and interactions with somatic symptoms among patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).


In this dual-center observational study, we included 71 patients diagnosed with NMOSD according to the International Panel for NMO Diagnosis 2015 criteria. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was classified into severe, moderate, or minimal/no depressive state category. We used the Fatigue Severity Scale to evaluate fatigue. Scores from the Brief Pain Inventory and the PainDETECT Questionnaire were normalized to estimate neuropathic pain. Psychotropic, pain, and immunosuppressant medications were tabulated by established classes.


Twenty-eight percent of patients with NMOSD (n = 20) had BDI scores indicative of moderate or severe depression; 48% of patients (n = 34) endorsed significant levels of neuropathic pain. Severity of depression was moderately associated with neuropathic pain (r = 0.341, p < 0.004) but this relationship was confounded by levels of fatigue. Furthermore, only 40% of patients with moderate or severe depressive symptoms received antidepressant medical treatment. Fifty percent of those treated reported persistent moderate to severe depressive symptoms under treatment.


Moderate and severe depression in patients with NMOSD is associated with neuropathic pain and fatigue and is insufficiently treated. These results are consistent across 2 research centers and continents. Future research needs to address how depression can be effectively managed and treated in NMOSD.

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