Activation of disease during therapy with alemtuzumab in 3 patients with multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

Objective

To report 3 patients with multiple sclerosis showing severe activation of disease during immunotherapy with alemtuzumab.

Methods

Retrospective case series.

Results

Patient 1, a 21-year-old woman, developed severe cognitive impairment, sight deterioration, severe gait ataxia, urinary retention, and extensive progression of cerebral lesion load, including new lesions that exhibited gadolinium ring enhancement and dominance of CD19/20-positive B lymphocytes, 6 months after induction of alemtuzumab. Patient 2, a 28-year-old man, developed left-sided hemihypesthesia and ∼60 new cerebral and spinal lesions including lesions with gadolinium ring enhancement 6 months after induction of alemtuzumab. Patient 3, a 37-year-old woman, developed ataxia and numbness of the left thigh, 16 new gadolinium-positive supratentorial lesions, and partly ring-enhancing and dominance of CD19/20-positive B lymphocytes 6 months after induction of alemtuzumab.

Conclusion

This is a case series reporting severe activation of disease during immunotherapy with alemtuzumab. All patients showed onset of symptoms 6 months after induction of alemtuzumab, strikingly similar MRI lesion morphology, and unexpected high total B cell count, which may suggest a B-cell-mediated activation of disease. Whether this is due to different rates of B- and T cell repopulation has to be the subject of further research. Moreover, further effects on the interactions between the adaptive and innate immunity as well as between B and T cell lineages might explain the observed disease activation.

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