MS Patients’ High Osteopontin Protein Levels Make It a Potential Biomarker for the Disorder, Study Reports

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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High protein levels in MS

Multiple sclerosis patients have high levels of a protein called osteopontin in their cerebrospinal fluid and blood, making it a potential tool for diagnosing the disease and predicting its course, a study suggests.

The research, “Osteopontin (OPN) as a CSF and blood biomarker for multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” was published in the journal PLOS One.

Researchers wanted to know if levels of osteopontin in cerebrospinal fluid and blood could be a reliable biomarker for MS.

To arrive at answer, they “conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis” of studies that had measured the protein’s levels in cerebrospinal fluid and blood “in MS patients and controls.”

The team searched for studies in three databases — PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus. Out of 27 that met their criteria, they used 22 in the meta-analysis.

All four types of MS were represented in the studies — clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting MS, secondary progressive MS, and primary progressive MS. There were three types of controls in the articles — healthy people, people with non-inflammatory neurological disorders, and people with inflammatory neurological disorders.

Researchers’ first observation was that all of the MS patients had higher levels of osteopontin than controls.

The protein’s levels were significantly higher in relapsing-remitting MS patients than in those with clinically isolated syndrome, the group with the lowest osteopontin levels. Levels were similar in the other types of MS.

Patients with an active disease had significantly higher levels of the protein in their cerebrospinal fluid than those with a stable disease.

The results supported previous studies’ findings that osteopontin levels are higher than normal in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood of MS patients, strengthening the notion that it could be used as a biomarker for MS.

“Given the fact that OPN [osteopontin] levels are higher during relapses, we think that by monitoring this biomarker,  we might be able to predict the disease course,” the team wrote. “We propose that developing drugs modulating OPN concentration may be a new treatment strategy for MS.”

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