Monday, 11 February 2013

Immunadsorption in steroid unresponsive relapses

Heigl et al. Immunoadsorption in steroid-refractory multiple sclerosis: Clinical experience in 60 patients. Atheroscler Suppl. 2013;14:167-73.

BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with a frequently relapsing or progressive course. For steroid-resistant relapse, plasma exchange (PE) has been established as guidelines-recommended treatment option. While PE is a non-selective extracorporeal blood purification process with elimination of plasma and subsequent substitution, immunoadsorption (IA) is a selective technique for the removal of autoantibodies and immune complexes with less adverse effects. So far there are only few reports on the treatment of MS by IA. The aim of this retrospective study was to assess the efficacy and safety of IA as an escalation therapy in MS patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 60 patients with steroid-refractory MS relapse were treated by IA and analyzed retrospectively. Patients received six standardized IA sessions using a non-regenerable tryptophan immunoadsorber, at average 58 days after first indications of relapse. The treated plasma volume was two liters per IA session. Outcome was measured as improvement in relapse symptoms. From the pilot phase of the study comprising the first fourteen patients, detailed neurological examinations before and after IA such as Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), Functional System Score (FS) and visual acuity are reported. Of the following 46 patients, only qualitative data regarding the therapeutic success, and in addition clinical data on tolerability, are presently available.

RESULTS: In 53 of 60 patients clinically relevant improvement of the main symptom of MS relapse was noted after IA, there was no change in six patients, deterioration in one. This corresponds to a response rate of 88%. Symptomatic improvement was first registered on average after the third IA. 87.5% of patients could be treated through a peripheral venous access. Only 12.5% needed a central venous catheter. In four of 396 single treatments (1%) significant complications occurred, mild side effects or discomfort were registered 16 times (4%). If peripheral venous access was chosen, missed puncture or puncture hematoma occurred in 22 cases (5.5%).

CONCLUSION: Immunoadsorption for the treatment of steroid-refractory MS relapse is safe and effective. The response rate was 88% and non-inferior to previous results with plasma exchange. Due to good tolerability, the treatment with immunoadsorption, which is usually possible through a peripheral venous access, can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Koziolek MJ, Kitze B, Mühlhausen J, Müller GA. in steroid-refractory multiple sclerosis. Atheroscler Suppl. 2013; 14:175-8.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder, with involvement of both the humoral and cellular components of the immune system. The use of plasma exchange (PE) in steroid-refractory relapses has become an integral part of national and international guidelines for the treatment of steroid-resistant relapses of MS with an efficacy of 40-70%. So far, 6 studies of immunoadsorption treatment in different forms of MS have been published, 4 of them in steroid-refractory MS relapses. These 4 studies revealed a significant clinical improvement in 73-85% of patients with steroid-refractory MS relapses. However in MS patients with non-active relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive course, there was no clinical improvement. Despite the limited number of patients and studies, these data suggest a reasonably similar efficacy of immunoadsorption in the treatment of steroid-refractory MS relapses compared to plasma exchange.

This provides further evidence that the the immune system is involved in the disease process in MS. we know that there are some antibodies circulating in the blood of MSers that cause neurological problems if they get into the brain. These can be removed using immunoadsorption. They pass blood through a filter to separate plasma (fluid in blood) from the red and white cells. The plasma can be filtered through and immunoglobulin (antibody) adsorption column. Antibodies have a site that bind to Protein A or Protein G bacterial proteins. The column is coated with these proteins and they hoover up the antibodies.


  1. Is there any change in blood viscosity after immunoadsorption?

    1. I have no idea, but I would suspect not as antibodies are not going to thicken the blood

  2. Could you have a post on steroid resistant relapses. Why are some relapses steroid resistant?


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