Background: Fingolimod (FTY) induces sequestration of lymphocytes in secondary lymphoid organs and the average lymphocyte recovery following discontinuation takes 1–2 months. It has been hypothesized that the therapeutic effects of subsequent cell-depleting agents may be compromised if initiated before lymphocyte recovery has occurred. Objective: To assess the risk of relapses following FTY discontinuation and the initiation of a B/T cell-depleting agent in relation to washout duration using data from the Italian MS Register. Methods: The risk of relapses was assessed in relation to different washout durations (< 6, 6–11, 12–17 and > / = 18 weeks) in patients starting alemtuzumab, rituximab, ocrelizumab or cladribine following FTY discontinuation. Results: We included 329 patients in the analysis (226F, 103 M; mean age 41 ± 10 years). During the cell-depleting treatment, the incidence rate ratio for a relapse was significantly greater in patients with a washout period of 12–17 and > / = 18 weeks compared to the reference period (< 6 weeks). The risk of a relapse was significantly influenced by the occurrence of relapses during FTY treatment and by washout length, with hazard ratios markedly increasing with the washout duration. Conclusion: The risk of relapses increases with the washout duration when switching from FTY to lymphocyte-depleting agents.
- Multiple sclerosis