Biomarkers Can Track Progression of MS

January 28, 2016
Dava Stewart

Serum antibody repertoires may serve as biomarkers for the pathology and progression of multiple sclerosis

Scientists have found that serum antibody repertoires may serve as biomarkers for the pathology and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). A study conducted by Rohit Bakshi, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues, was published in the journal Neurology on January 27, 2016.

The researchers set out to “determine whether peripheral immune responses as measured by serum antigen arrays are linked to cerebral MRI measures of disease severity in multiple sclerosis” according to the study. They conducted a cross-sectional study, and recruited participants from the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of MS at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (CLIMB) study.

The same MRI scanner was used to obtain images from all of the participants, and all peptides were synthesized at the same facility at Harvard. The authors said, “To study the relationship between the peripheral immune response and MRI measure of disease severity, we analyzed serum antibody reactivity in those MS samples.” They found that there were differences between MRI measures of disease the antibody reactivity.

The researchers said, “Strikingly, immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to lipids were linked to brain MRI measures.” They used that association to create a lipid index, which, they said, “comprised the reactivity directed against all of the lipids associated with each specific MRI measure.”

More research is necessary to find out if bioactive lipids could offer a new type of therapy for patients with MS, as well as to study whether or not specific anti-lipid antibodies could predict worsening of the disease. The researchers concluded that the patterns they discovered in the study “suggest a predominant role for lipids and lipid-specific immunity in MS pathology.”