Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immunologically mediated disorder in which inflammation and demyelination of the central nervous system white matter are prominent features, resulting in various neurological signs and symptoms. In most patients, the course of the disease is initially characterised by relapses and remissions. In patients with chronic disease there is a tendency towards a gradually progressive disease course. MS relapses can best be treated with a course of high dose intravenous methylprednisolone. In ambulatory patients with relapsing remitting MS, partial prevention of relapses can be achieved by the use of interferon-β-1a or -1b, whereas there is (as yet less convincing) evidence that glatiramer acetate (copolymer-1) might also be effective. At this time, there is no proof that these drugs are effective in patients with progressive MS, although trial results are expected to be available soon. In patients with rapidly progressive disease, it might be worth considering the effect of methotrexate. Future treatment options include new strategies to interfere with disease-relevant, specific or nonspecific immune mechanisms as well as drugs that might promote remyelination. In spite of the advances that have been made over the past few years, symptomatic treatment, including a multidisciplinary rehabilitation approach, remains the mainstay of treatment of the majority of MS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-569
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 1998

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