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Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2018 Sep 26;5(6):e504. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000504. eCollection 2018 Nov.

Apheresis therapies for NMOSD attacks: A retrospective study of 207 therapeutic interventions.

Author information

Department of Neurology (I.K., A.G., K.H.), St. Josef Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum; Marianne-Strauß-Klinik (I.K.), Behandlungszentrum Kempfenhausen für Multiple Sklerose Kranke, Berg; NeuroCure Clinical Research Center and Experimental and Clinical Research Center (N.B., F. Pache), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin; Department of Neurology (K.F., J.F.), Asklepios Fachklinikum Teupitz; CRO Sostana GmbH and Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin (K.-D.W.); Department of Neurology and Clinical and Experimental Multiple Sclerosis Research Center (F.Pache, K.R.), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Institute of Clinical Neuroimmunology (J.H., T.K.), Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich; Department of Neurology (O.A., H.-P.H., M.R.), Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf; Department of Neurology (C.G., M. Schwab), Jena University Hospital; Department of Neurology (C.K.), University Hospital Essen; Department of Neurology (A.B.), Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich; Department of Neurology (B.H.), Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München and Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy); Department of Neurology (K.A.), University Hospital Regensburg; Institute of Neuroimmunology and MS (INIMS) and Department of Neurology (J.-P.S.), University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, HamburgKlinik und Poliklinik für Neurologie (S.S.), Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf; Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neurochemistry (M. Stangel), Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School; Department of Neurology (F.L., H.T.), University of Ulm; Fachklinik für Neurologie Dietenbronn (H.T.), Akademisches Krankenhaus der Universität Ulm, Schwendi; Department of Neurology (C.M.), Goethe University Frankfurt; Department of Neurology & Stroke (M.K., L.Z., U. Ziemann), and Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen; Department of Neurology (R.L.), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg; Department of Neurology and Neurological Intensive Care (M.M.), Isar-Amper-Clinic, Munich-East, Haar; Department of Neurology (F.T.B.), University of Leipzig; Department of Neurology (U. Hofstadt-van Oy), Klinikum Westfalen, Dortmund; Department of Neurology (O.N.), SRH Krankenhaus Sigmaringen; Neuroimmunological Section (U. Zettl), Department of Neurology, University of Rostock; Molecular Neuroimmunology Group (B.W., S.J.), Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg; NeuroCure Clinical Research Center (F. Paul), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, and Experimental and Clinical Research Center, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin; and Department of Neurology (C.T.), Hannover Medical School, Germany.



To analyze whether 1 of the 2 apheresis techniques, therapeutic plasma exchange (PE) or immunoadsorption (IA), is superior in treating neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) attacks and to identify predictive factors for complete remission (CR).


This retrospective cohort study was based on the registry of the German Neuromyelitis Optica Study Group, a nationwide network established in 2008. It recruited patients with neuromyelitis optica diagnosed according to the 2006 Wingerchuk criteria or with aquaporin-4 (AQP4-ab)-antibody-seropositive NMOSD treated at 6 regional hospitals and 16 tertiary referral centers until March 2013. Besides descriptive data analysis of patient and attack characteristics, generalized estimation equation (GEE) analyses were applied to compare the effectiveness of the 2 apheresis techniques. A GEE model was generated to assess predictors of outcome.


Two hundred and seven attacks in 105 patients (87% AQP4-ab-antibody seropositive) were treated with at least 1 apheresis therapy. Neither PE nor IA was proven superior in the therapy of NMOSD attacks. CR was only achieved with early apheresis therapy. Strong predictors for CR were the use of apheresis therapy as first-line therapy (OR 12.27, 95% CI: 1.04-144.91, p = 0.047), time from onset of attack to start of therapy in days (OR 0.94, 95% CI: 0.89-0.99, p = 0.014), the presence of AQP4-ab-antibodies (OR 33.34, 95% CI: 1.76-631.17, p = 0.019), and monofocal attack manifestation (OR 4.71, 95% CI: 1.03-21.62, p = 0.046).


Our findings suggest early use of an apheresis therapy in NMOSD attacks, particularly in AQP4-ab-seropositive patients. No superiority was shown for one of the 2 apheresis techniques.

Classification of evidence:

This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with NMOSD, neither PE nor IA is superior in the treatment of attacks.

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