Oral Contraceptives Interact with Adiposity-Associated Markers in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Véronique Ferret-Sena, Catarina Ramos, Maria João Cascais, Carlos Capela, Armando Sena

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Growing evidence suggests the involvement of adipose tissue in modulating the clinical course of relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). This study aimed to investigate whether the intake of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) affects body weight and leptin and adiponectin (APN) blood levels in these patients. Clinical data from 62 women (M = 33.23 year) were recorded prior to the initiation of disease-modifying therapy. Patients who were taking COCs at the time of experiencing the first symptoms of disease (COC user) were compared with those who never used these formulations or stopped taking them before disease onset (COC non-user). Bivariate Pearson’s correlations and hierarchical multiple linear regressions analysis were conducted. Normalized APN levels were lower in the COC-using patients (p = 0.013). Negative correlations between waist circumference and normalized APN (p = 0.001) were observed only in the COC non-user patients. A longer duration of COC intake was associated with increased body mass index and waist circumference (p = 0.003). Normalized APN predicted the MS Severity Score (MSSS) (p = 0.020), but this correlation was lost in the COC user patients. After adjusting for confounders, only age (p = 0.027) and, later, disease onset (p = 0.014) were correlated with the MSSS. Larger and prospective studies are needed to investigate the interactions of sex steroids with adipose metabolism in modulating disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • adiponectin
  • adiposity
  • ageing
  • multiple sclerosis
  • oral contraceptives


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