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Multiple Sclerosis in the Elderly Patient

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an acquired inflammatory demyelinating disease of the CNS that is typically diagnosed in the second or third decade of life. It is generally believed that over the last few decades the life expectancy of patients with adult onset MS (AOMS) has approached that of the general population as a result of better medical and nursing care. Thus, an increasing number of MS patients are entering or have reached senescence. A second group of elderly patients with MS that may be very different in terms of disease pathogenesis are patients with late onset MS (LOMS). The diagnosis in LOMS patients can be challenging because of a large number of age-associated MS differential diagnoses, atypical presentations, a low index of suspicion and the lack of diagnostic criteria specific to this age group. Also, specific problems these patients encounter have only recently become a focus of attention. Changes in renal and hepatic function with age, in addition to the coexistence of medical co-morbidities, require special attention in the management of elderly patients with MS. In this review we outline the characteristics of senescent AOMS and LOMS patients. In addition, we discuss therapeutic strategies in elderly patients with MS based on our knowledge of immunosenescence and age-associated characteristics of this disorder. Given the overall aging of the population, focusing on these two patient groups appears highly relevant.

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Acknowledgements

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. Olaf Stüve has received honoraria from Teva, EMO Biomedicine and Serono. Amer Awad has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Correspondence to Dr Olaf Stüve.

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Awad, A., Stüve, O. Multiple Sclerosis in the Elderly Patient. Drugs Aging 27, 283–294 (2010). https://doi.org/10.2165/11532120-000000000-00000

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Keywords

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Multiple Sclerosis Patient
  • Expand Disability Status Scale
  • Expand Disability Status Scale Score