Neuromyelitis optical (NMO) and neuromyelitis optical spectrum disorder (NMOSD) are inflammatory autoimmune demyelination diseases affecting the central nervous system. We investigated the efficiency of low-dose rituximab treatment in 31 Chinese patients with NMO/NMOSD across a median period of 2.29 ± 0.97 years and azathioprine combined with corticosteroid treatment in 34 Chinese patients with NMO/NMOSD across a median period of 2.61 ± 0.94 years. Among the rituximab-treated patients, the mean Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) was 5.62 ± 1.35 before treatment and 4.48 ± 0.78 at last follow-up, and the mean annualized relapse rate (ARR) was 1.39 ± 0.42 before treatment and 0.03 ± 0.13 at last follow-up. Among the azathioprine-treated patients, the mean EDSS was 5.63 ± 1.29 before treatment and 5.05 ± 1.00 at last follow-up, and the mean ARR was 1.28 ± 0.34 before treatment and 0.49 ± 0.21 at last follow-up. In this study, we showed that using low-dosage rituximab could benefit Chinese patients with NMO by reducing the new occurrence of relapses dramatically. Compared with the azathioprine-treated patients, we concluded that rituximab is more effective in preventing NMO relapse and could improve the symptoms.
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