Impact of pregnancy on long-term outcomes in women with multiple sclerosis – assessment of mechanism

Project Details


Data suggests that pregnancy in women with MS may exert long-term health benefits, with comparisons of women with and without pregnancy (but otherwise equivalent disease at a baseline time point) demonstrating less accumulation of disability in those who have had pregnancies. Further it has been shown that the risk of developing MS diminishes with increasing parity.  The mechanism by which pregnancy protects against MS, and the accumulation of disability has not been established.

This project will investigate the biological mechanism by which pregnancy exerts protection against the accumulation of disability.  This is a lab-based project and will involve both genomic and cell-based analyses. This project will also utilise clinical outcomes data and environmental data derived from the international MSBase Registry.

Outcomes and impact

Determination of the mechanism by which pregnancy impacts on long-term outcomes in women with multiple sclerosis will inform our knowledge of the biology underlying MS, and guide new avenues for therapeutic intervention research.

Research Environment

The proposed project will be undertaken in collaboration with other Victoria, NSW, SA and International sites who collaborate with 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 Vilija Jokubaitis, Group Head and Project leader
  • Prof Helmut Butzkueven, Head of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Research Group
  • Dr Louise Laverick, Research Assistant
  • Dr Ai-Lan Nguyen, PhD Candidate
  • Ms Josephine Baker, MS Nurse


  • 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
  • Prof Jeannette Lechner-Scott, John Hunter Hospital and University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • MSBase collaborative network

Research Publications

  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 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

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.