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NMOSD and MS prevalence in the Indigenous populations of Australia and New Zealand

Bukhari, W., Khalilidehkordi, E., Mason, D.F., Barnett, M.H., Taylor, B.V., Fabis-Pedrini, M., Kermode, A.G., Subramanian, S., Waters, P., Broadley, S.A., Abernethy, D., Bhuta, S., Blum, S., Boggild, M., Boundy, K., Brew, B.J., Brilot, F., Brownlee, W.J., Bundell, C.S., Butzkueven, H., Carroll, W.M., Chen, C., Clarke, L., Coulthard, A., Dale, R.C., Das, C., Dear, K., Fulcher, D., Gillis, D., Hawke, S., Heard, R., Henderson, A.P.D., Heshmat, S., Hodgkinson, S., Jimenez Sanchez, S., Kilpatrick, T.J., King, J., Kneebone, C., Kornberg, A.J., Lechner-Scott, J., Lin, M-W, Lynch, C., Macdonell, R.A.L., Marriott, M.P., McCombe, P.A., O’Gorman, C., Parratt, J.D.E., Pender, M.P., Pereira, J., Pollard, J.D., Prain, K.M., Ramanathan, S., Reddell, S.W., Shaw, C., Silvestrini, R.A., Slee, M., Spies, J., Stankovich, J., Sutton, I., Vincent, A., Vucic, S., Walsh, M., Willoughby, E., Wong, R.C., Woodhall, M. and Yiu, E.M. (2021) NMOSD and MS prevalence in the Indigenous populations of Australia and New Zealand. Journal of Neurology .

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We studied the prevalence of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) in Indigenous populations of Australia and New Zealand with the aim of assessing potential differences.


Cases of possible NMOSD and MS were collected from Australia and New Zealand. Clinical details, MR imaging, and serologic results were used to apply 2015 IPND diagnostic criteria for NMOSD and 2010 McDonald criteria for MS. Frequencies of self-determined ethnic ancestry were calculated for confirmed NMOSD, suspected NMOSD, and MS. Prevalence rates for NMOSD and MS according to ancestry were compared.


There were 75 cases with NMOSD, 89 with suspected NMSOD, and 101 with MS. NMOSD cases were more likely to have Asian, Indigenous, or Other ancestry compared to suspected NMOSD or MS. There were no differences in the clinical phenotype of NMOSD seen in Indigenous compared to European ancestry populations. Per 100,000, the prevalence estimate for NMOSD in people with Māori ancestry was 1.50 (95% CI 0.52–2.49) which was similar to those with Asian ancestry 1.57 (95% CI 1.15–1.98). NMOSD prevalence in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations was 0.38 (95% CI 0.00–0.80) per 100,000.


The prevalence of NMOSD in the Māori population is similar to South East Asian countries, reflecting their historical origins. The prevalence of MS in this group is intermediate between those with South East Asian and European ancestry living in New Zealand. Both NMOSD and particularly MS appear to be uncommon in the Indigenous populations of Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Part of Springer Nature.
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