Cognitive impairment (CI) is common in multiple sclerosis (MS). Processing speed (PS) is often affected, making it an ideal target for monitoring CI. This study aims to evaluate the association between disease-modifying therapy (DMT) use and intensity and longitudinal changes in Processing Speed Test (PST) scores for individuals with MS.
A retrospective analysis of individual PST scores at a single MS center was conducted. Individuals with 2 or more PST assessments were included. Scores on the PST were compared longitudinally between those who had been on a DMT for 2 or more years and those who had been off a DMT for 2 or more years and between those on high-efficacy DMTs and those on low-/moderate-efficacy DMTs. A linear regression model was approximated to evaluate the rate of cognitive change over time. A propensity score adjustment was conducted using a multivariable logistic regression.
The cohort was 642 individuals, 539 on DMT and 103 off DMT. Median age and disease duration was 49.7 (interquartile range [IQR] 42.4-57.9) and 16.6 years (IQR 9.3-23.0) in the DMT group, and 58.9 (IQR 52.2-65.3) and 20.0 years (IQR 14.1-31.4) in the non-DMT group. Both cohorts were predominantly female (75% DMT, 79.6% non-DMT), with a mean of 4 assessments (IQR 3-5), and an average monitoring duration of 1.9 years (1.2-2.4) in the DMT group, and 1.8 years (1.4-2.4) in the non-DMT group. After adjusting for multiple factors, DMT status and intensity were not found to be significant predictors of longitudinal PST change.
Neither DMT status nor intensity were significant predictors of cognitive processing speed over a period of approximately 2 years. Future prospective multicenter trials are needed to further support these findings.