An observational study of alemtuzumab following fingolimod for multiple sclerosis

Mark Willis, Owen Pearson, Zsolt Illes, Tobias Sejbaek, Christian Nielsen, Martin Duddy, Kate Petheram, Caspar Van Munster, Joep Killestein, Clas Malmeström, Emma Tallantyre, Neil Robertson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To describe a series of patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) who experienced significant and unexpected disease activity within the first 12 months after switching from fingolimod to alemtuzumab. Methods: Patients with relapsing MS treated sequentially with fingolimod then alemtuzumab who experienced significant subsequent disease activity were identified by personal communication with 6 different European neuroscience centers. Results: Nine patients were identified. Median disease duration to alemtuzumab treatment was 94 (39-215) months and follow-up from time of first alemtuzumab cycle 20 (14-21) months. Following first alemtuzumab infusion cycle, 8 patients were identified by at least 1 clinical relapse and radiologic disease activity and 1 by significant radiologic disease activity alone. Conclusions: We acknowledge the potential for ascertainment bias; however, these cases may illustrate an important cause of reduced efficacy of alemtuzumab in a vulnerable group of patients with MS most in need of disease control.We suggest that significant and unexpected subsequent disease activity after alemtuzumab induction results from prolonged sequestration of autoreactive lymphocytes following fingolimod withdrawal, allowing these cells to be concealed from the usual biological effect of alemtuzumab. Subsequent lymphocyte egress then provokes disease reactivation. Further animal studies and clinical trials are required to confirm these phenomena and in the meantime careful consideration should be given to mode of action of individual therapies and sequential treatment effects in MS when designing personalized treatment regimens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere320
JournalNeurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this

Willis, M., Pearson, O., Illes, Z., Sejbaek, T., Nielsen, C., Duddy, M., ... Robertson, N. (2017). An observational study of alemtuzumab following fingolimod for multiple sclerosis. Neurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation, 4(2), [e320]. https://doi.org/10.1212/NXI.0000000000000320