Cerebrospinal fluid of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may carry lower levels of cell-free mitochondrial DNA, according to a team of researchers who say this may be a sign of neurodegeneration among these patients.
The study “Cell-free mitochondrial DNA in progressive multiple sclerosis” was published in the journal Mitochondrion.
Moreover, certain mitochondrial genetic variants are associated with MS. For example, patients with the mitochondria haplogroup J variants (a cluster of genes with certain variations) were reported to have a 1.5 higher risk for developing primary progressive MS, while other variants (namely the haplogroup K) decrease this risk.
Recently, researchers identified increased levels of cell-free mitochondrial DNA in the cerebrospinal fluid (the liquid around the brain and spinal cord) in both relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and progressive MS patients, with high levels correlating with brain shrinkage (atrophy).
Since currently there is a lack of accurate predictors of neurodegeneration in MS, a team of researchers evaluated the role of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA in MS progression.
They quantified cell-free mitochondrial DNA abundance and integrity in cerebrospinal fluid collected from post-mortem brains of 36 patients with end-stage progressive MS, in whom neurodegeneration is evident. Researchers performed the same analysis in samples from 43 matched healthy controls.
In its analysis, the team looked at how the levels of cell-free mitochondrial DNA correlated with known markers of neurodegeneration and progressive MS.
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