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What's new in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder treatment?

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, New Taipei City, Taiwan
2 Department of Electrical Engineering, Yuan Ze University, Chung-Li, Taoyuan, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
Tzu-Lun Huang,
No. 21, Section 2, Nanya South Road, Banqiao District, New Taipei City 22060, ROC.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2211-5056.355329

Optic neuritis, an optic nerve inflammatory disease presenting with acute unilateral or bilateral visual loss, is one of the core symptoms of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). The diagnosis of NMOSD-related optic neuritis is challenging, and it is mainly based on clinical presentation, optical coherence tomography, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and the status of serum aquaporin-4 antibodies. In the pathogenesis, aquaporin-4 antibodies target astrocytes in the optic nerves, spinal cord and some specific regions of the brain eliciting a devastating autoimmune response. Current pharmacological interventions are directed against various steps within the immunological response, notably the terminal complement system, B-cells, and the pro-inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 6 (IL6). Conventional maintenance therapies were off-label uses of the unspecific immunosuppressants azathioprine and mycophenolate mofetil as well as the CD20 specific antibody rituximab and the IL6 receptor specific antibody tocilizumab. Recently, four phase III clinical trials demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the three novel biologics eculizumab, inebilizumab, and satralizumab. These monoclonal antibodies are directed against the complement system, CD19 B-cells and the IL6 receptor, respectively. All three have been approved for NMOSD in the US and several other countries worldwide and thus provide convincing treatment options.

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