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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Importance of Regular and Maintenance Therapy Adherence in Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO): Lessons from a Repeating Relapse Case

Rare disease

Jing Miao, Doreen E. Aboagye, Boris Chulpayev, Lin Liu, Gary Ishkanian, Bangaruraju Kolanuvada, Dariush Alaie, Richard L. Petrillo

USA Department of Internal Medicine, Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital, Mount Vernon, NY, USA

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:41-46

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.906150

Available online: 2018-01-11

Published: 2018-01-11


BACKGROUND: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a rare demyelinating disease of the central nervous system; NMO predominantly affects the spinal cord and optic nerves. The diagnosis is based on history, clinical presentation, seropositive NMO-IgG antibody, and notably, exclusion of other diseases. Despite the absence of definitive therapeutic strategies for NMO, methylprednisolone pulse therapy and plasma exchange are used for acute phase treatment, while immunosuppressive agent(s) are recommended to prevent relapses and improve prognosis. Here, we report a repeating relapse NMO case due to lack of regular and maintenance therapy.
CASE REPORT: A 58-year-old female with chronic NMO presented with a three-day history of new-onset right leg weakness and pain. The patient was diagnosed with NMO three years ago and presented with her fourth attacks. During her initial diagnosis, she was initiated on steroids. One year later, she developed the first relapse and was treated with steroids and rituximab, leading to 1.5-year remission. After the second relapse, steroids and rituximab was still given as maintenance therapy, but was not followed. Thus, the third relapse occurred in five months. During this hospitalization, she received initially high-dose solumedrol (1 g daily for five days) in addition to gabapentin 100 mg (gradually increased to 300 mg) three times a day for muscle spasms. Due to worsening of paresthesia and hemiparesis, it was decided to place her on plasma exchange treatment. After two plasma exchanges, the patient’s condition was improved and she regained strength in her lower extremity. She completed five more cycles of plasma exchange, and was then discharged on steroid therapy (prednisone 20 mg daily for 10 days then taper) as maintenance therapy and with follow-up in neurology clinic.
CONCLUSIONS: Over the span of three years, the patient has had three relapses since her NMO diagnosis where her symptoms have worsened. Steroid therapy alone seemed not insufficient in managing her more recent relapses. Nonadherence to NMO treatment likely increased her risk for recurrence, thus regular and long-term maintenance therapy is imperative to delay the progression and prevent relapse in NMO.

Keywords: Immunosuppressive Agents, Methylprednisolone, Neuromyelitis Optica, Plasma Exchange, Recurrence