Testing for types of fat (lipids) present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may help diagnose the disease and monitor its progression, a study says.
In the study “Lipid profile of cerebrospinal fluid in multiple sclerosis patients: a potential tool for diagnosis,” published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers say MS patients have a different lipid (fat) profile at the time of diagnosis than people without the condition.
Although the root cause of MS is unclear, some researchers have proposed that alterations in lipids may be an important factor. Lipids, or fat-soluble parts of living cells, play diverse roles in the Central Nervous System (CNS). Myelin, for example, is known to be very rich in lipids, with 70% to 85% of its dry weight being composed of lipids. Myelin also contains about 700 different lipid species, particularly sphingolipids and glycerophospholipids.
In the study researchers at Universitat de Lleida and Hospital Universitario Arnau de Vilanova Hospital, both in Spain, investigated this subject. They compared the global set of lipids (lipidomics) found in 107 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples taken from MS patients when diagnosed at their hospital from 2001 to 2005, with samples from people without MS (the control group). In total, samples from 53 relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 54 controls were studied.
Data showed that the cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients differed in “statistically significant” ways from controls in 155 lipid species, 47 of which were identified: 30 glycerolipids, five sterol lipids, four fatty acids, five glycerophospholipids, and three sphingolipids.
Further analysis supported the existence of a specific “lipidomic signature”, that is a specific pattern of lipid types and their levels that was able to discriminate (with a 70% accuracy) between MS patients at diagnosis and non-MS patients.
This “signature” was composed of 15 fat species belonging to five lipid families, including four glycerolipids, two sterol lipids (cholest-5-en-3alpha-ol and dihydrotestosterone), one fatty acid (tridecanoic acid), and one glycerophospholipid.
The researchers noted that at least one MS drug - fingolimod or Gilenya - appears to support a role for lipids in the disease. “It is noteworthy that fingolimod or Gilenya, an effective treatment for MS, is an antagonist (blocker) of sphingosine-1-phosphate (sphingolipid). This highlights the importance of this lipid family, whose levels, according to the research results, are altered in CSF following disease onset.
Source: MS-UK 20/08/2019