In patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), assisted reproduction treatment (ART) was associated with a sevenfold increase in risk of new exacerbations and a ninefold increase in risk of MRI activity, according to research published online in the October 3 Annals of Neurology. In all, 73% of exacerbations were new, and 27% corresponded with worsening of pre-existing symptoms.
Jorge Correale, MD, Head of Neuroimmunology and Demyelinating Diseases at the Dr. Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, and colleagues recruited 16 patients with relapsing-remitting MS for a prospective study of the effect of ART on disease activity. Eligible patients had tried to become pregnant naturally for 12 months without success. The researchers recruited 15 healthy volunteers and 15 patients with relapsing-remitting MS in remission as age- and gender-matched controls.
The 16 active patients received 26 cycles of hormonal treatment (ie, 100 to 450 IU/day of gonadotropin-releasing hormone and 150 to 225 IU/day of recombinant follicle-stimulating hormone for seven to 10 days). The researchers conducted neurologic exams, brain MRI, and immunology testing every three months for one year. The risk period was defined as three months following an ART cycle.