In a new study titled “Adipsin Is Associated with Multiple Sclerosis: A Follow-Up Study of Adipokines,” researchers report a correlation between an adipokine called adipsin and the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The study was published in the Multiple Sclerosis International journal.
Obese adolescents and young adults are at higher risks for MS, an autoimmune disease characterized by T cells (key immune system cells) attacking myelin (the substance that insulates nerve cells). Adipose tissue modulatory activity of inflammatory responses was proposed as a possible cause for this phenotype in obese individuals.
Adipokines, cytokine-like hormones secreted by the adipose tissue, regulate several physiological processes, including inflammation. While uncontrolled release of adipokines was reported in obesity and autoimmune diseases, their role in MS is still largely unknown.
Researchers performed a two-year prospective follow-up study to examine adipokine levels in blood samples from MS patients. They focused on the best-known adipokines — the anti-inflammatory adiponectin, and the proinflammatory leptin and adipsin — and investigated how their levels correlated with disease activity.
For the study, 80 MS patients were enrolled; 65 of them were diagnosed with clinically definite MS (CDMS, according to the revised McDonald Criteria) and 15 with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS, defined here as patients who had their first demyelinating neurologic event suggestive of MS). The CDMS group included patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS, 34 patients), patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS, 15 patients), and patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS, 16 patients).
Besides collecting blood and performing annual neurological examinations on all patients at the study’s start and up to two years, researchers also registered body mass index, pre-study disease activity (number of relapses two years before study’s start), number of relapses over the two-year follow-up, and the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score (at baseline and end of the follow-up).
The team found a correlation between the levels of adipsin and EDSS score at baseline in the whole MS and RRMS cohorts of patients, suggesting that adipsin plays a role in the pathophysiology of MS. Moreover, researchers found a correlation between the baseline levels of adipsin and MS lesions. Associations with other adipokines were not detected.
The findings support a role for adipsin in MS and suggest that adipsin may carry a predictive value and be potentially used as a biomarker of neurodegeneration.