The Barcelona Baseline Risk Score May Predict Long-Term MS Course

The Barcelona baseline risk score predicted progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in patients by assigning them to low-, medium-, and high-risk groups. The high-risk group had the shortest time to progression to an Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) of 3.0, and were also more likely to progress by MRI and quality of life measures.

The ranking is based on sex, age at the first clinically isolated syndrome, CIS topography, the number of T2 lesions, and the presence of infratentorial and spinal cord lesions, contrast-enhancing lesions, and oligoclonal bands.

“What we wanted to do is merge all of the different prognostic variables for one single patient into one single score,” said Mar Tintoré, MD, PhD, in an interview. Tintoré is a professor of neurology at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona and a senior consultant at the Multiple Sclerosis Centre of Catalonia (Cemcat). Tintoré presented the results of the study at the annual meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS).

The three groups had different outcomes in MRI, clinical factors, and MRI scans, and quality of life outcomes over the course of their disease. “So this is a confirmation that this classification at baseline is really meaningful,” Tintoré said in an interview.

She attributed the success of the model to its reliance on multiple factors, but it is also designed to be simple to use. “We have been trying to use it with simple factors, [information] that you always have, like age, sex, gender, number of lesions, and topography of the region. Everybody has this information at their desk.”

Proof of Concept

The study validates the approach that neurologists already utilize, according to Patricia Coyle, MD, who moderated the session. “I think the prospective study is a really unique and powerful concept,” said Coyle, who is a professor of neurology, vice chair of neurology, and director of the Stony Brook (N.Y.) Comprehensive Care Center.

The new study “kind of confirmed their concept of the initial rating, judging long-term disability progression measures in subsets. They also looked at brain atrophy, they looked at gray-matter atrophy, and that also traveled with these three different groups of severity. So it kind of gives value to looking at prognostic indicators at a first attack,” said Coyle.

The results also validate the Barcelona group’s heavy emphasis on MRI, which Coyle pointed out is common practice. “If the brain MRI looks very bad, if there are a lot of spinal cord lesions, then that’s somebody we’re much more worried about.”

Once the model is confirmed in other cohorts, the researchers plan to release the model as a generally available algorithm that clinicians could use to help manage patients. Tintoré pointed out the debate over when to begin a patient on high-efficacy disease-modifying therapies. That choice depends on a lot of factors, including patient choice, safety, and comorbidities. “But knowing that your patient is at risk of having a bad prognosis is something that is helpful” in that decision-making process, she said.

Predicting Time to EDSS 3.0

The researchers used the Barcelona CIS cohort to build a Weibull survival regression in order to estimate the median time to EDSS 3.0. The model produced three categories with widely divergent predicted times from CIS to EDSS 3.0: low risk, medium risk, and high risk.

In the current report, the researchers compared the model to a “360 degree” measure of measures in 1,308 patients, including clinical milestones (McDonald 2017 MS, confirmed secondary progressive MS, progression independent of relapse activity [PIRA], EDSS disability, number of T2 MRI lesions and brain atrophy, and Patient Reported Outcomes for MS [walking speed, manual dexterity, processing speed, and contrast sensitivity]).

At 30 years after CIS, the risk of reaching EDSS 3.0 was higher in the medium risk (hazard ratio, 3.0 versus low risk) and in the high risk group (HR, 8.3 versus low risk). At 10 years, the low risk group had a 40% risk of fulfilling McDonald 2017 criteria, versus 89% in the intermediate group, and 98% in the high risk group. A similar relationship was seen for SPMS (1%, 8%, 16%) and PIRA (17%, 26%, 35%).

At 10 years, the estimated accumulated T2 lesions was 7 in the low-risk group (95% CI, 5-9), 15 in the medium-risk group (95% CI, 12-17), and 21 in the high-risk group (95% CI, 15-27).

Compared with the low- and medium-risk groups, the high-risk group had lower brain parenchymal fraction and gray-matter fraction at 5 years. They also experienced higher stigma, had worse perception of upper and lower limb function as measured by Neuro QoL, and had worse cognitive performance.

Tintoré has received compensation for consulting services and speaking honoraria from Aimirall, Bayer Schering Pharma, Biogen-Idec, Genzyme, Janssen, Merck-Serono, Novartis, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Viela Bio. Coyle has no relevant disclosures.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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