Defining Disease Activity and Response to Therapy in MS

  • Ulrike W. Kaunzner
  • Mais Al-Kawaz
  • Susan A. Gauthier
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (P Villoslada, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders

Opinion statement

Disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) has classically been defined by the occurrence of new neurological symptoms and the rate of relapses. Definition of disease activity has become more refined with the use of clinical markers, evaluating ambulation, dexterity, and cognition. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an important tool in the investigation of disease activity. Number of lesions as well as brain atrophy have been used as surrogate outcome markers in several clinical trials, for which a reduction in these measures is appreciated in most treatment studies. With the increasing availability of new medications, the overall goal is to minimize inflammation to decrease relapse rate and ultimately prevent long-term disability. The aim of this review is to give an overview on commonly used clinical and imaging markers to monitor disease activity in MS, with emphasis on their use in clinical studies, and to give a recommendation on how to utilize these measures in clinical practice for the appropriate assessment of therapeutic response.


Multiple sclerosis NEDA MRI Lesion 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Mais Al-Kawaz declares no conflict of interest.

Ulrike W. Kaunzner received grant support from Biogen.

Susan A. Gauthier has current grant support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt, and Genzyme.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrike W. Kaunzner
    • 1
  • Mais Al-Kawaz
    • 2
  • Susan A. Gauthier
    • 1
  1. 1.Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis CenterWeill Cornell MedicineNew York CityUSA
  2. 2.NewYork PresbyterianWeill Cornell MedicineNew York CityUSA

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