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BACKGROUND: Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting drug used to treat narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnoea, and shift-work sleep disorder. Modafinil has also been used for the treatment of fatigue and excessive sleepiness in other neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis, psychiatric disorders, and for cognitive enhancement. Recent preclinical studies suggest a potential neuroprotective effect of modafinil in neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, we investigated its neuroprotective potential in multiple sclerosis. OBJECTIVE: To retrospectively assess disease progression in a group of MS patients that had received treatment with modafinil, and a matched group that received no treatment with modafinil. METHODS: We assessed the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score change, over at least three years, in 30 patients with MS treated with modafinil, and in 90 patients who did not receive modafinil. The two groups were matched for initial EDSS, age, sex, type of disease, disease duration, duration of follow-up, and concomitant disease modifying therapies. Statistical analysis was performed using a general linear regression model. RESULTS: In relapsing-remitting (RR) patients treated with modafinil there was no significant EDSS change over the follow-up period. In RR patients not treated with modafinil, the mean EDSS increased significantly (0.94; p=0.0001) over the follow-up period. Independent of modafinil treatment status, our model indicated an additional mean EDSS increase of 1.1 point (p=0.0002) for progressive patients i.e. mean EDSS change was 1.1 point for modafinil treated, and 1.1+0.94=2.04 points for modafinil-untreated patients. CONCLUSION: Our results support the hypothesis that modafinil has neuroprotective potential, and may play a role in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. A prospective study will need to confirm this finding.

Original publication




Journal article


Mult Scler Relat Disord

Publication Date





131 - 135


Disability, EDSS, Fatigue, Modafinil, Multiple sclerosis, Neuroprotection