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<jats:p> The objective of this study was to assess the effects of subcutaneous (sc) interferon beta-1a (IFNβ-1a) on cognition in mildly disabled patients with relapsing—remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Patients aged 18—50 years with RRMS (McDonald criteria; Expanded Disability Status Scale score ≤4.0) were assigned IFNβ therapy at the physician’s discretion and underwent standardized magnetic resonance imaging, neurological examination and neuropsychological testing at the baseline and regular intervals for up to three years. </jats:p><jats:p> This analysis included 459 patients who received sc IFNβ-1a (44 mcg: n = 236; 22 mcg: n = 223; three-year follow up was available for 318 patients). The hazard ratio for cognitive impairment over three years (44 mcg versus 22 mcg) was 0.68 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.480—0.972), suggesting a 32% lower risk with the higher dose treatment. At year 3, the proportion of patients who were cognitively impaired increased slightly from 23.5% at the baseline to 24.8% in the IFNβ-1a 22 mcg treatment group, but remained stable at 15.2% in the IFNβ-1a 44 mcg treatment group. The proportion of patients with cognitive impairment at year 3 was significantly higher in the 22 mcg group than in the 44 mcg group (P = 0.03), although a trend was also seen at the baseline (P = 0.058). Multivariate logistic regression (corrected for baseline cognitive deficits) indicated that treatment with the higher dose of IFNβ-1a was predictive of lower cognitive impairment at three years (odds ratio: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.26—0.99) compared with the lower dose of IFNβ-1a. </jats:p><jats:p> These findings suggest that sc IFNβ-1a may have dose-dependent cognitive benefits in mildly disabled patients with RRMS, and may support early initiation of high-dose IFNβ-1a treatment. </jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Multiple Sclerosis Journal


SAGE Publications

Publication Date





68 - 77