1. Institute of Clinical Neuroimmunology, Biomedical Center and University Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet Muenchen

Author Of 1 Presentation

Neuromyelitis Optica and Anti-MOG Disease Poster Presentation

P0742 - Pain, depression and quality of life in NMOSD: a cross-sectional study of 166 AQP4-antibody seropositive patients in Europe (ID 1645)



“Spinal pain”, girdle-like dysesthesia, and painful spasms were noted already in earliest disease descriptions in the 18th century. Nowadays it has become clear that pain is a frequent and one of the most disabling symptoms in these patients. Due to the rarity of NMOSD most previous studies of pain and depression were relatively small or included a mixed population AQP4-IgG-seropositive and seronegative patients, while recent clinical trials clearly indicate that pathogenetic mechanisms are different in these forms.


To evaluate prevalence, clinical characteristics and predictive factors of pain, depression and their impact on the quality of life (QoL) in a large European seropositive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disease (NMOSD) cohort.


We included 166 patients with aquaporin-4-seropositive NMOSD from 13 tertiary referral centers of Neuromyelitis Optica Study Group (NEMOS). Clinical data, including expanded disability status scale and localization of spinal lesions on MRI, were retrieved from the NEMOS database or local electronic patient records. Data on pain, depression and quality of life were captured by self-reporting questionnaires.


125 (75.3%) patients suffered from chronic NMOSD-associated pain. Of these, 65.9% had neuropathic pain, 68.8% reported spasticity-associated pain and 26.4% painful tonic spasms. Number of previous myelitis attacks (OR 1.27, p=0.018) and involved upper thoracic segments (OR 1.31, p=0.018) were the only predictive factors for chronic pain. Interestingly, the latter was specifically associated with spasticity-associated (OR 1.36, p=0.002), but not with a neuropathic pain. 39.8% suffered from depression (moderate to severe in 51.5%). Pain severity (OR 1.81, p<0.001) and especially neuropathic character (OR 3.44, P<0.001) were strongly associated with depression. 70.6% of patients with moderate or severe depression and 42.5% of those with neuropathic pain had no specific medications. 64.2% of those under symptomatic treatment still reported moderate to severe pain. Retrospectively, 39.5% of pain-sufferers reported improvement of pain after start of immunotherapy: 37.3% under rituximab, 40.0% under azathioprine, 33.3% under mycophenolate mofetil and 66.7% under tocilizumab. However, there was no difference in terms of pain prevalence or intensity in patients with different immunotherapies. Pain intensity, walking impairment and depression could explain 56% of the physical QoL variability, while depression was the only factor, explaining 46% of the mental QoL variability.


Myelitis episodes involving upper thoracic segments are main drivers of pain in NMOSD. Although pain intensity was lower than in previous studies, pain and depression remain undertreated and strongly affect QoL. Interventional studies on targeted treatment strategies for pain are urgently needed in NMOSD.