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Body mass index influence interferon-beta treatment response in multiple sclerosis

Silje Stokke Kvistad, Kjell-Morten Myhr, Trygve Holmøy, Jūratė Šaltytė Benth, Stig Wergeland, Antonie G. Beiske, Kristian S. Bjerve, Harald Hovdal, Finn Lilleås, et al.

Journal of Neuroimmunology, Volume 288, 15 November 2015, Pages 92-97


  • Overweight and obese MS patients (BMI > 25 kg/m²) had more MRI-activity during interferon-beta treatment compared to normal-weight patients.
  • Fewer overweight and obese MS patients achieved no evidence of disease activity (NEDA) status during interferon-beta treatment, compared to normal-weight patients.
  • There was no association between MRI disease activity or EDSS score and BMI before initiation of interferon-beta.
  • BMI was inversely correlated with the inflammation marker pentraxin 3 and positively correlated with interleukin-1 receptor antagonist.


Obesity is a possible risk factor of multiple sclerosis (MS), but the association between obesity and MS disease activity has not been explored. In a cohort of 86 MS patients, 80% of overweight or obese patients (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) had MRI activity compared to 48% of the normal-weight patients (BMI < 25 kg/m2) (p = 0.001) during interferon-beta treatment. NEDA-status (no evidence of disease activity) was defined as a composite that consisted of absence of any relapses, sustained disability-progression and MRI-activity. Among normal-weight patients 26% obtained NEDA-status compared to only 13% of patients with BMI > 25 (p = 0.05). This may indicate that BMI affects interferon-beta treatment response.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

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