Biomarkers of Therapeutic Response in Multiple Sclerosis: Current Status

Publication Date

December 1, 2014

Publication Information

Harris VK, and Sadiq SA. Mol Diagn Ther. 2014; 18(6): 605-617.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of unknown cause, in which chronic inflammation drives multifocal demyelination of axons in both white and gray matter in the CNS. The pathological course of the disease is heterogeneous and involves an early, predominantly inflammatory demyelinating disease phase of relapsing–remitting MS (RRMS), which, over a variable period of time, evolves into a progressively degenerative stage associated with axonal loss and scar formation, causing physical and cognitive disability. For patients with RRMS, there is a growing arsenal of disease-modifying agents (DMAs), with varying degrees of efficacy, as defined by reduced relapse rates, improved magnetic resonance imaging outcomes, and preservation of neurological function. Establishment of personalized treatment plans remains one of the biggest challenges in therapeutic decision-making in MS because the disease prognosis and individual therapeutic outcomes are extremely difficult to predict. Current research is aimed at discovery and validation of biomarkers that reliably measure disease progression and effective therapeutic intervention. Individual biomarker candidates with evident clinical utility are highlighted in this review and include neutralizing autoantibodies against DMAs, fetuin-A, osteopontin, isoprostanes, chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 13 (CXCL13), neurofilament light and heavy, and chitinase 3-like protein. In addition, application of more advanced screening technologies has opened up new categories of biomarkers that move beyond detection of individual soluble proteins, including gene expression and autoantibody arrays, microRNAs, and circulating microvesicles/exosomes. Development of clinically useful biomarkers in MS will not only shape the practice of personalized medicine but will also serve as surrogate markers to enable investigation of innovative treatments within clinical trials that are less costly, are of shorter duration, and have more certainty of outcomes.

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