Comparison of the efficacy of azathioprine and rituximab in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

a randomized clinical trial

Zahra Nikoo, Shervin Badihian, Vahid Shaygannejad*, Nasrin Asgari, Fereshteh Ashtari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) often follows a relapsing course. As disability in NMOSD is attack-related, effective treatments are needed. We aimed to compare the efficacy of azathioprine (AZA) and rituximab (RIT) as maintenance therapy in NMOSD patients. An open, randomized clinical trial was conducted during September 2015 to December 2016, in Isfahan, Iran. Initially, 100 NMOSD patients were approached, 86 entered the study, and 68 cases completed the trial. All patients had a relapsing–remitting course with expanded disability extended scale (EDSS) ≤7 (median 2.75, range = 0–7). Patients were randomized into two groups, which did not differ according to age, gender distribution, and disease duration. In the AZA group, 35 patients [20 aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-IgG positive] were started on 50 mg/day oral AZA and increased to 2–3 mg/kg/day (with oral prednisolone as adjunctive therapy). In the RIT group, 33 patients (13 aquaporin-4-IgG positive) received 1 g intravenous rituximab and repeated 2 weeks later and then every 6 months. Annualized relapse rate (ARR) was measured as the primary outcome and EDSS as the secondary outcome after 12 months of intervention. The mean ARR [standard deviation (SD)] in the AZA group decreased from 1 (0.38) to 0.51 (0.55) (P value <0.001) and in the RIT group decreased from 1.30 (0.68) to 0.21 (0.42) (P value <0.001). ARR after intervention minus ARR before intervention [mean (SD)] was 1.09 (0.72) in RIT group and 0.49 (0.59) in AZA group (P value <0.001). EDSS after intervention minus EDSS before intervention [mean (SD)] was 0.98 (1.14) in RIT group and 0.44 (0.54) in AZA group (P value <0.001). Nineteen patients (54.3%) in AZA group and 26 patients (78.8%) in RIT group became relapse-free after intervention (P value = 0.033). AZA and RIT can both effectively decrease ARR and EDSS in NMOSD patients. RIT was significantly more effective than AZA treatment. Trial Registration Name of registry: clinicaltrials.gov; ID: NCT03002038; URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03002038.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology
Volume264
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2003-2009
ISSN0340-5354
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Neuromyelitis Optica
Randomized Controlled Trials
Age Distribution
Iran
Names
Registries

Keywords

  • Azathioprine
  • Comparative study
  • Efficacy
  • Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder
  • Randomized clinical trial
  • Rituximab

Cite this

Nikoo, Zahra ; Badihian, Shervin ; Shaygannejad, Vahid ; Asgari, Nasrin ; Ashtari, Fereshteh. / Comparison of the efficacy of azathioprine and rituximab in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder : a randomized clinical trial. In: Journal of Neurology. 2017 ; Vol. 264, No. 9. pp. 2003-2009.
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abstract = "Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) often follows a relapsing course. As disability in NMOSD is attack-related, effective treatments are needed. We aimed to compare the efficacy of azathioprine (AZA) and rituximab (RIT) as maintenance therapy in NMOSD patients. An open, randomized clinical trial was conducted during September 2015 to December 2016, in Isfahan, Iran. Initially, 100 NMOSD patients were approached, 86 entered the study, and 68 cases completed the trial. All patients had a relapsing–remitting course with expanded disability extended scale (EDSS) ≤7 (median 2.75, range = 0–7). Patients were randomized into two groups, which did not differ according to age, gender distribution, and disease duration. In the AZA group, 35 patients [20 aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-IgG positive] were started on 50 mg/day oral AZA and increased to 2–3 mg/kg/day (with oral prednisolone as adjunctive therapy). In the RIT group, 33 patients (13 aquaporin-4-IgG positive) received 1 g intravenous rituximab and repeated 2 weeks later and then every 6 months. Annualized relapse rate (ARR) was measured as the primary outcome and EDSS as the secondary outcome after 12 months of intervention. The mean ARR [standard deviation (SD)] in the AZA group decreased from 1 (0.38) to 0.51 (0.55) (P value <0.001) and in the RIT group decreased from 1.30 (0.68) to 0.21 (0.42) (P value <0.001). ARR after intervention minus ARR before intervention [mean (SD)] was 1.09 (0.72) in RIT group and 0.49 (0.59) in AZA group (P value <0.001). EDSS after intervention minus EDSS before intervention [mean (SD)] was 0.98 (1.14) in RIT group and 0.44 (0.54) in AZA group (P value <0.001). Nineteen patients (54.3{\%}) in AZA group and 26 patients (78.8{\%}) in RIT group became relapse-free after intervention (P value = 0.033). AZA and RIT can both effectively decrease ARR and EDSS in NMOSD patients. RIT was significantly more effective than AZA treatment. Trial Registration Name of registry: clinicaltrials.gov; ID: NCT03002038; URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03002038.",
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Comparison of the efficacy of azathioprine and rituximab in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder : a randomized clinical trial. / Nikoo, Zahra; Badihian, Shervin; Shaygannejad, Vahid; Asgari, Nasrin; Ashtari, Fereshteh.

In: Journal of Neurology, Vol. 264, No. 9, 2017, p. 2003-2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Comparison of the efficacy of azathioprine and rituximab in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

T2 - a randomized clinical trial

AU - Nikoo, Zahra

AU - Badihian, Shervin

AU - Shaygannejad, Vahid

AU - Asgari, Nasrin

AU - Ashtari, Fereshteh

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) often follows a relapsing course. As disability in NMOSD is attack-related, effective treatments are needed. We aimed to compare the efficacy of azathioprine (AZA) and rituximab (RIT) as maintenance therapy in NMOSD patients. An open, randomized clinical trial was conducted during September 2015 to December 2016, in Isfahan, Iran. Initially, 100 NMOSD patients were approached, 86 entered the study, and 68 cases completed the trial. All patients had a relapsing–remitting course with expanded disability extended scale (EDSS) ≤7 (median 2.75, range = 0–7). Patients were randomized into two groups, which did not differ according to age, gender distribution, and disease duration. In the AZA group, 35 patients [20 aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-IgG positive] were started on 50 mg/day oral AZA and increased to 2–3 mg/kg/day (with oral prednisolone as adjunctive therapy). In the RIT group, 33 patients (13 aquaporin-4-IgG positive) received 1 g intravenous rituximab and repeated 2 weeks later and then every 6 months. Annualized relapse rate (ARR) was measured as the primary outcome and EDSS as the secondary outcome after 12 months of intervention. The mean ARR [standard deviation (SD)] in the AZA group decreased from 1 (0.38) to 0.51 (0.55) (P value <0.001) and in the RIT group decreased from 1.30 (0.68) to 0.21 (0.42) (P value <0.001). ARR after intervention minus ARR before intervention [mean (SD)] was 1.09 (0.72) in RIT group and 0.49 (0.59) in AZA group (P value <0.001). EDSS after intervention minus EDSS before intervention [mean (SD)] was 0.98 (1.14) in RIT group and 0.44 (0.54) in AZA group (P value <0.001). Nineteen patients (54.3%) in AZA group and 26 patients (78.8%) in RIT group became relapse-free after intervention (P value = 0.033). AZA and RIT can both effectively decrease ARR and EDSS in NMOSD patients. RIT was significantly more effective than AZA treatment. Trial Registration Name of registry: clinicaltrials.gov; ID: NCT03002038; URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03002038.

AB - Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) often follows a relapsing course. As disability in NMOSD is attack-related, effective treatments are needed. We aimed to compare the efficacy of azathioprine (AZA) and rituximab (RIT) as maintenance therapy in NMOSD patients. An open, randomized clinical trial was conducted during September 2015 to December 2016, in Isfahan, Iran. Initially, 100 NMOSD patients were approached, 86 entered the study, and 68 cases completed the trial. All patients had a relapsing–remitting course with expanded disability extended scale (EDSS) ≤7 (median 2.75, range = 0–7). Patients were randomized into two groups, which did not differ according to age, gender distribution, and disease duration. In the AZA group, 35 patients [20 aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-IgG positive] were started on 50 mg/day oral AZA and increased to 2–3 mg/kg/day (with oral prednisolone as adjunctive therapy). In the RIT group, 33 patients (13 aquaporin-4-IgG positive) received 1 g intravenous rituximab and repeated 2 weeks later and then every 6 months. Annualized relapse rate (ARR) was measured as the primary outcome and EDSS as the secondary outcome after 12 months of intervention. The mean ARR [standard deviation (SD)] in the AZA group decreased from 1 (0.38) to 0.51 (0.55) (P value <0.001) and in the RIT group decreased from 1.30 (0.68) to 0.21 (0.42) (P value <0.001). ARR after intervention minus ARR before intervention [mean (SD)] was 1.09 (0.72) in RIT group and 0.49 (0.59) in AZA group (P value <0.001). EDSS after intervention minus EDSS before intervention [mean (SD)] was 0.98 (1.14) in RIT group and 0.44 (0.54) in AZA group (P value <0.001). Nineteen patients (54.3%) in AZA group and 26 patients (78.8%) in RIT group became relapse-free after intervention (P value = 0.033). AZA and RIT can both effectively decrease ARR and EDSS in NMOSD patients. RIT was significantly more effective than AZA treatment. Trial Registration Name of registry: clinicaltrials.gov; ID: NCT03002038; URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03002038.

KW - Azathioprine

KW - Comparative study

KW - Efficacy

KW - Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

KW - Randomized clinical trial

KW - Rituximab

U2 - 10.1007/s00415-017-8590-0

DO - 10.1007/s00415-017-8590-0

M3 - Letter

VL - 264

SP - 2003

EP - 2009

JO - Journal of Neurology

JF - Journal of Neurology

SN - 0340-5354

IS - 9

ER -