The effect of IFNβ-1b on the evolution of enhancing lesions in secondary progressive MS

P. A. Brex, P. D. Molyneux, P. Smiddy, F. Barkhof, M. Filippi, T. A. Yousry, D. Hahn, Y. Rolland, O. Salonen, C. Pozzilli, C. H. Polman, A. J. Thompson, L. Kappos, D. H. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: After the resolution of contrast enhancement, the majority of new MS lesions become isointense with surrounding white matter on T1-weighted MRI. Less commonly, a hypointense T1 lesion develops, representing the development of more severe focal tissue damage. Interferon beta (IFNβ) reduces both the number of new enhancing lesions and the duration of contrast enhancement. Objective: To determine if IFNβ affects the degree of tissue damage within new lesions and if its effects are related to lesion size. Methods: One hundred twenty-five patients with secondary progressive MS from seven European sites were randomized to receive either IFNβ-1b or placebo. Monthly, contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MR images were acquired at baseline, at months 1 to 6, and at months 19 to 24. The size of all new enhancing lesions developing between months 1 and 6 was recorded and their appearance at follow-up documented. Results: In the first 6 months, fewer new enhancing lesions occurred in the IFNβ-1b arm. This difference was greater for small (70% decrease) than for large (46% decrease) lesions. Hypointense T1 lesions were more likely to form from large (25%) than from small (9%) enhancing lesions in both treatment arms. Patients taking IFNβ-1b developed fewer hypointense T1 lesions; however, the proportion of enhancing lesions developing into hypointense T1 lesions was similar in both arms. Conclusion: IFNβ-1b reduced the number of new enhancing lesions, with a greater effect on small lesions. However, when a new enhancing lesion did become established, treatment with IFNβ-1b did not alter its subsequent course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2185-2190
Number of pages6
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 26 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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