Biomarkers are measurable indicators of the severity or presence of some disease state. The absence of reliable biomarkers of inflammation in the central nervous system delays the development of specific therapeutics in MS.

A good marker of inflammation in relapsing–remitting MS is the presence of active lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. However, active lesions are rare in progressive MS, making this biomarker less sensitive for therapeutic developments in the progressive phases. There is a need to identify direct biomarkers of inflammation within the central nervous system.

A research team at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, USA, tried to identify possible biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with MS.

Comparable levels

They found that patients with both progressive MS subgroups had comparable levels of many inflammatory biomarkers to relapsing-remitting MS patients. This finding contradicts the belief that inflammation no longer plays a role in the disease process of progressive MS.

The findings also predict that effective prevention of inflammation in progressive MS requires drugs which can access the central nervous system. The discovery of biomarkers of inflammation in the cerebrospinal fluid may improve diagnosis and management of MS, and could also be used in clinical trial as markers of effectiveness in drug studies.

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