In multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system, the body attacks the protective myelin sheath of neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. The damaged myelin causes communication problems between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. To this day, there is no cure for MS. Neurobiological researchers believe that MS does not only cause the clinical symptoms we look for as of today but also alters a patient’s lipid metabolism.
Lipid biomarkers for MS diagnosis and monitoring
Lipids and lipid metabolism are believed to play a critical role in multiple sclerosis and have direct or indirect effects on the progression of the neurodegenerative disease. First, myelin, the nerve’s protective sheath that is attacked in MS, consists mainly of lipids. Hence, a functioning lipid metabolism is critical for re-myelination, the repair and reconstruction of myelin. But lipids are also critical for regulating inflammatory responses in neuroinflammation. Additionally, lipid metabolism is also important for general repair in the central nervous system.
Individual diversity in symptoms and disease development make it hard to spot MS, especially early on. Patient’s must undergo various tests to get diagnosed, often leading to long suffering paths beforehand. Identifying specific blood biomarkers of multiple sclerosis might help improve patient life.
In order to discover such biomarkers researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases applied lipidomics analysis to blood plasma samples of 73 monozygotic twins in which only one of the twins was diagnosed with a form of MS – 243 distinct lipids were taken into account for further lipid data analysis.