Management of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who discontinue fingolimod (FTY) is not established yet and breakthrough disease activity has been reported following fingolimod withdrawal. However, data regarding this phenomenon and its possible impact in the long-term are still sparse.
To explore frequency of disease reactivation after FTY cessation in a single-center cohort and clinical/radiological characteristics of patients (pts) discontinuing FTY during (I) the wash-out period and (II) the first 12-months following a new treatment onset.
Data regarding relapses, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), MRI activity (new T2 and/or Gd-enhancing lesion) and lymphocyte count before and during FTY treatment, the wash-out period and the first 12-moths of a new treatment were retrospectively collected. Pts were grouped according to (I) discontinuation reason (inefficacy/adverse events/other reasons) and (II) disease activity during wash-out (no disease activity/at least one relapse or MRI activity/rebound). Differences in clinical/radiological characteristics or time to NEDA3-failure between groups were assessed with ANOVA, Chi-square and Kaplan-Meier estimator as appropriate.
We included 71 pts [females:70%; mean age and disease duration at FTY start:37.6±8.4 and 11±7.6 years; median EDSS:3 (0-7); mean treatment duration:2.3 year]. 70% discontinued for inefficacy, 22% for adverse events, 8% for other reasons (pregnancy/pts’s choice). During the wash-out 69% of pts remained stable, 21.2% had clinical/radiological activity, 9.8% had a rebound (mean wash-out period: 2.3, 8.2, 4.1 months, respectively; p=0.03). Age was lower in rebound vs stable pts (28.5±4.9vs39.4±8.3; p=0.006). Discontinuation for inefficacy was observed in 70% of stable, 93% of clinically/radiologically active and 42% of pts with a rebound during wash-out (p<0.0001). No differences in time to NEDA3-failure during the first 12-months following a new treatment start were observed according to discontinuation reason or disease activity during wash-out (Log-Rank test: p=0.67 and p=0.23, respectively). Disease duration, EDSS, lymphocytes’ count at FTY stop and lymphocytes’ increase during wash-out did not differ according to disease activity during wash-out or response to following treatment.
Younger pts were more likely to have a rebound, while more frequent discontinuation for inefficacy and longer wash-out period were observed in pts with clinical/radiological activity during wash-out. Time to NEDA3-failure within the 12-months following a new treatment onset was not influenced by discontinuation reason or disease activity during wash-out