High levels of certain lipids, or fat, in the blood are linked to increased disability scores and high levels of pro-inflammatory markers in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients, a small study reports.
The study, “Lipoprotein markers associated with disability from multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), are characterized by an imbalanced immune response often accompanied by other alterations, such as changes in the metabolism of lipids.
Several studies have suggested an association between increased levels of lipids in the blood and higher MS disease activity, shown by new lesions in magnetic resonance imaging or worsening on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), a tool used to quantify disability in MS patients.
A team of researchers at Imperial College London have now investigated the association between MS and the concentration of lipids in the blood in RRMS patients, compared with healthy volunteers. Additionally, they investigated how the levels of blood lipids correlated with markers of inflammation.
In total, they analyzed blood samples from 27 RRMS patients, who had a median EDSS score of 1.5, ranging from one (no significant disability) to seven (severe disability, essentially restricted to a wheelchair), and 31 healthy controls.
Patients had not received treatment with disease-modifying therapies or steroids for at least three months, and were relapse-free for at least one month before enrolling in the study.
Lipids are transported in the blood in complex aggregates of proteins and lipids, called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins thus contain a mixture of lipids — triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids — and proteins.
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