Inflammation and demyelination are the main processes in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, to date, blood biomarkers of inflammation are lacking. TWEAK, a transmembrane protein that belongs to the TNF ligand family, has been previously identified as a potential candidate.
A study, published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, recruited 28 patients (9 males and 19 females). They were prospectively included after a first clinical episode suggestive of MS and clinically followed for three years. Fifty-seven healthy controls were also included. TWEAK serum levels and MRI exams including magnetisation transfer imaging were performed at the beginning of the study, and then at 6- and 12-months to follow up.
The results showed that TWEAK serum levels were significantly increased in the patient group compared to healthy controls. Serum levels of soluble TWEAK were significantly increased during relapses, compared to time periods without any relapse. Moreover, patients presenting at least one gadolinium-enhanced central nervous system lesion at baseline displayed significantly increased serum TWEAK levels in comparison with patients without any gadolinium-enhanced lesion at baseline. No correlation was evidenced between TWEAK serum levels and the extent of brain tissue damage assessed by magnetisation transfer ratio.
The researchers concluded that the present study showed TWEAK serum levels are increased in MS patients, in relation to disease activity. ‘This simple and reproducible serum test could be used as a marker of ongoing inflammation, contributing in the follow-up and the care of MS patients. TWEAK is a promising serum marker of the best window to perform brain MRI, optimising the disease control in patients,’ they claimed.
Source: MS-UK 05/04/2019