The addition of methylprednisolone to interferon (IFN-) therapy may reduce disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to a greater degree than treatment with IFN- alone.1 “These results indicate that these 2 drugs may have a synergy when taken together and provide a more beneficial effect on the disease activity,” said study author Mads Ravnborg, MD, of the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Research Center at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
The study included 341 patients with relapsing-remitting MS who had the disease for an average of 3 years and had not been previously treated with a disease-modifying drug such as IFN-. Patients in the combination group were treated with methylprednisolone monthly, receiving 3 doses over 3 days, in addition to regular weekly treatment with IFN-. Those treated with methylprednisolone and IFN- had 38% fewer relapses than patients who received IFN- alone. Disability scores were also improved in patients treated with combination therapy, while the scores of patients who received placebo decreased slightly.
Measurements of lesions were taken at the beginning of the study and 3 years after treatment. In those treated with combination therapy, the lesions stayed the same size or shrunk, while the size of the lesions grew for those treated with IFN- alone.
Methylprednisolone is often used to treat acute MS attacks, not as an ongoing treatment. “This is a promising finding, as the benefit from interferon is only moderate and not everyone responds fully to the treatment, so anything we can do to boost those results is positive,” said Dr Ravenborg.
1. Ravnborg M. A multi-centre, double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled, parallel group trial investigating methylprednisolone (MP) in combination with interferon-b-1a for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) [LB3.002]. Scientific Session, April 29, 2009.