Role of Immunosuppressive Therapy for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

James M. Stankiewicz, Hadar Kolb, Arnon Karni, Howard L. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Immunosuppressives have been used in multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1966. Today, we have many treatments for the relapsing forms of the disease, including 8 US Food and Drug Administration-approved therapies, with more soon to be introduced. Given the current treatment landscape what place do immunosuppressants have in combating MS? Trial work and our experience suggest that immunosuppressives still have an important role in treating MS. Cyclophosphamide finds use in treating patients with severe, inflammatory relapsing remitting MS or those suffering from a fulminant attack. We tend to employ mycophenolate mofetil as an add-on to injectable therapy for patients experiencing breakthrough activity. Some progressive (primary progressive multiple sclerosis or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis) patients may stabilize after treatment with either cyclophosphamide or mycophenolate. We rarely employ mitoxantrone because of potential cardiac or carcinogenic effects. We prefer to use cyclophosphamide or mycophenolate mofetil in preference to methotrexate because evidence of efficacy is limited for this drug. We have less experience with azathioprine, but it may be an alternative for patients with limited options who are unable to tolerate conventional therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Azathioprine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Methotrexate
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Mycophenolate mofetil


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