Population-based clinical studies in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and epidemiological and clinical comparisons of White ethnicities are missing. In a large population-based international cohort, we extensively characterized aquaporin-4 antibody seropositive (AQP4-Ab+) NMOSD, and also compared the clinical, radiological and epidemiological features between two European populations residing in different areas.
Between self-reported Danish and Hungarian ethnicities, we compared the population-based clinical features, disability outcomes, and death of 134 AQP4-Ab+ NMOSD cases fulfilling the 2015 International Panel for NMO Diagnosis (IPND) criteria. For precise comparison of epidemiology, we conducted a population-based head-to-head comparative study of the age-standardized prevalence (January 1, 2014) and incidence (2007-2013) of AQP4-Ab+ NMO/NMOSD among adults (≥16 years) in Denmark (4.6 million) and Hungary (6.4 million) by applying 2015 IPND (NMOSD) criteria and 2006 Wingerchuk (NMO).
Danes were more likely to present with transverse myelitis and were more affected by spinal cord damage on long-term disability. Hungarians presented most often with optic neuritis, although visual outcome was similar in the groups. No differences were observed in sex, disease course, relapse rate, autoimmune comorbidity, mortality, brain MRI, and treatment strategies. The age-standardized prevalence estimates of AQP4-Ab+ NMOSD (2015 IPND criteria) in Denmark vs. Hungary were 0.66 vs. 1.43 (/100,000) while incidence rates were 0.04 vs. 0.11 (/100,000 person-years); similar differences were found based on the 2006 NMO criteria.
This head-to-head comparative study indicates different disease characteristics and epidemiology among White populations in Europe, and substantiates the need for population-based genetic and environmental studies in NMOSD.

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