Myelin cells

Possible new biomarker for MS diagnosis discovered

Published: 25 January 2022

Researchers have discovered a new possible biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Myelin basic protein, a key myelin protein in the sacs of cellular content that are released by oligodendrocytes – which are the myelin-producing cells of the brain and spinal cord – was found at significantly higher levels in people with MS than in healthy people. Additionally, primary progressive patients had higher levels than those with relapsing remitting MS.

It’s extremely important to diagnose MS correctly in the early stages to determine treatment. A diagnosis is currently made based on imaging, clinical and laboratory information, but a non-invasive, quick and easy test for biomarkers isn’t available.

Oligodendrocytes release tiny membrane-coated sacs called extracellular vesicles. These contain proteins, fats and material from the original cell. Researchers examined whether the amount of myelin proteins in them could help diagnose MS and help with prognosis.

The results showed that myelin basic protein levels in the extracellular vesicles from the healthy control group in the study were significantly lower than in people with MS, and the concentration found allowed the researchers to discriminate between people with MS and healthy people with a 96.3% accuracy.

The results indicate that ‘a minimally invasive blood test measuring the concentration of MBP in ODEVs is a promising tool that could facilitate MS diagnosis,’ the researchers said.