Determining predictors of post-partum relapse in women with MS

Project Details


Relapse-onset MS is characterised by periods of neurological symptom exacerbation (relapses), and periods of neurological stability (remission).  It has been demonstrated that relapse rates diminish during pregnancy in women with relapse-onset MS, being lowest in the third trimester, but then tend rebound post-partum.  However, not all women experience post-partum relapses.  The determinants of post-partum relapse timing and severity remain poorly understood.

This project will build statistical models utilising data derived from the international MSBase Registry to identify demographic, clinical, therapeutic, paraclinical and environmental determinants of post-partum relapse in women with MS.  Findings may inform future relapse biomarker research.

Outcomes and impact

Identification and characterisation of the determinants of post-partum relapse will allow for better stratification of patients at risk of post-partum relapse and will better inform the clinical management of these patients.

Research Environment

The proposed project will be undertaken using the MSBase Registry, an international, prospective, observational MS cohort study.  It currently contains over 50,000 longitudinal patient records, with over 230,000-patient years of follow-up.



  • Dr Anneke van der Walt, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne & Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC, Australia
  • A. Prof Tomas Kalincik, Department of Medicine, CORe Unit, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  • Prof Dana Horakova, and Prof Eva Havrdova, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic
  • Dr Olga Skibina, Alfred Hospital and Box Hill Hospital, Monash University, VIC, Australia
  • Prof Jeannette Lechner-Scott, John Hunter Hospital and University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • MSBase collaborative network

Research Outcomes

  1. Jokubaitis VG, Spelman T, Kalincik T, et al., Predictors of long-term disability accrual in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Annals of Neurology. 2016; 80(1): 89-100
  2. Kister, I., Spelman, T., Duquette, P., et al., 2016, September. Effect of pregnancy on disease course in progressive MS: a case-control study. Mult Scler J 2016; 22, pp. 506-508
  3. Jokubaitis, V. G., Kalincik, T., Lorscheider, J., et al Pregnancy protects against long-term disability accrual in relapsing-remitting MS. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. Mult Scler J 2016; 22 pp. 120-122

Research Publications

  1. Hughes SE, Spelman T, Gray OM, et al., Predictors and dynamics of postpartum relapses in women with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J 2014; 20(6): 739-46.

Research Group

MS Biology, Genomics and Prognostics Group

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology


Royal Melbourne Hospital

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