The prevalence of pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is low in multiple sclerosis (MS), but similar symptoms may co-occur, according to a study published in Neurology Clinical Practice.

Researchers assessed data on 8,136 responders of a validated seven-question self-report measure of PBA. Responders were categorized as PBA-positive (PBA[+]) if they had a composite score ≥17 without current depression. Participants also reported their demographic characteristics and their clinical characteristics using Patient-Determined Disease Steps and Performance Scales. Clinical and disease characteristics for PBA(+) responders were compared with those without PBA using descriptive statistics and multivariable multinomial logistic regression.

According to the results, 7% of patients had scores ≥17 on the Center for Neurologic Study-Lability Scale; however, the researchers noted, only 2.5% had scores ≥17 without comorbid depression, with 11% reporting a diagnosis of PBA. The results showed that PBA(+) individuals tended to be younger, non-white, and have lower socioeconomic status. Overall, the analysis showed that PBA(+) was correlated with increased odds of more severe cognitive impairment.

“Our findings suggest that the prevalence of PBA in MS is low, but similar symptoms may co-occur or overlap with depression, highlighting the importance of concomitant assessment of mood when evaluating potential PBA. PBA may be associated with cognitive impairment in people with MS,” the researchers concluded.


Keywords: Pseudobulbar affect, multiple sclerosis, North American Research Committee on MS