Multiple Sclerosis Relapse Rate Linked to Puberty in Boys

boy teenager sad silhouette
boy teenager sad silhouette
Boys with onset of MS during puberty experienced an increased rate of relapse compared with boys with MS onset before or after puberty.

Onset of pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) during puberty in boys may be associated with an increased relapse rate, according to results of a retrospective study presented at the 2017 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting, May 24-27 in New Orleans.

Previous studies demonstrated an association between MS relapse and menarche in girls; however, the effect of puberty on disease course in boys is not known.

In order to determine if there is a connection between puberty and relapse rate in boys with pediatric MS, investigators from the University of California, San Francisco enrolled 58 male pediatric patients from the University of California, San Francisco Pediatric MS Center who were diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS before 18 years of age. The patients were stratified into 3 groups based on disease onset and approximate pubertal stage: <11 years old (prepuberty, n=21), 11 to 14 years old (peripuberty, n=21), and >14 years old (postpuberty, n=16).

Using univariate negative binomial regression analysis, a 2.4-fold increased relapse rate was observed for boys with disease onset during the peripubertal stage compared with those in the postpubertal group (incidence rate ratio [IRR]=2.43; 95% CI, 1.33-4.47; P =.004). No significant change was observed after controlling for race, ethnicity, and use of disease-modifying therapies (IRR=2.39; 95% CI, 1.20-4.79; P =.014). In addition, no differences in relapse rate were observed between the pre- and postpubertal onset groups.

Overall, the results suggest that pubertal onset may play a role in MS disease activity; however, further studies are needed to better understand the biological and pathophysiological roles at play in puberty and MS.

Disclosure: Jennifer Graves reports receiving grant and research support from Biogen, Genentech, and Race to Erase MS.

For more coverage of CMSC 2017, go here

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Young B, Waubant E, Lulu S, Graves J. Puberty onset and pediatric multiple sclerosis activity in boys. Presented at: 2017 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting. May 24-27, 2017; New Orleans, LA. Abstract EG04.