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Borisow, Nadja; Kleiter, Ingo; Gahlen, Anna; Fischer, Katrin; Wernecke, Klaus-Dieter; Pache, Florence; Ruprecht, Klemens; Havla, Joachim; Krumbholz, Markus; Kümpfel, Tania; Aktas, Orhan; Ringelstein, Marius; Geis, Christian; Kleinschnitz, Christoph; Berthele, Achim; Hemmer, Bernhard; Angstwurm, Klemens; Weissert, Robert; Stellmann, Jan-Patrick; Schuster, Simon; Stangel, Martin; Lauda, Florian; Tumani, Hayrettin; Mayer, Christoph; Zeltner, Lena; Ziemann, Ulf; Linker, Ralf A.; Schwab, Matthias; Marziniak, Martin; Bergh, Florian Then; Hofstadt-van Oy, Ulrich; Neuhaus, Oliver; Winkelmann, Alexander; Marouf, Wael; Rückriem, Lioba; Faiss, Jürgen; Wildemann, Brigitte; Paul, Friedemann; Jarius, Sven; Trebst, Corinna; Hellwig, Kerstin (2017): Influence of female sex and fertile age on neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders. In: Multiple Sclerosis Journal, Vol. 23, No. 8: pp. 1092-1103


Background: Gender and age at onset are important epidemiological factors influencing prevalence, clinical presentation, and treatment response in autoimmune diseases. Objective: To evaluate the impact of female sex and fertile age on aquaporin-4-antibody (AQP4-ab) status, attack localization, and response to attack treatment in patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and its spectrum disorders (neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD)). Methods: Female-to-male ratios, diagnosis at last visit (NMO vs NMOSD), attack localization, attack treatment, and outcome were compared according to sex and age at disease or attack onset. Results: A total of 186 NMO/SD patients (82% female) were included. In AQP4-ab-positive patients, female predominance was most pronounced during fertile age (female-to-male ratio 23:1). Female patients were more likely to be positive for AQP4-abs (92% vs 55%;p<0.001). Interval between onset and diagnosis of NMO/SD was longer in women than in men (mean 54 vs 27months;p=0.023). In women, attacks occurring 40years of age were more likely to show complete remission (p=0.003) and better response to high-dose intravenous steroids (p=0.005) compared to woman at >40years. Conclusion: Our data suggest an influence of sex and age on susceptibility to AQP4-ab-positive NMO/SD. Genetic and hormonal factors might contribute to pathophysiology of NMO/SD.