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1.  Methylation patterns of cell-free plasma DNA in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis 
There is growing interest for identification of new targets for biomarker development in multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of this study was to compare the concentration and the methylation patterns of cell-free plasma DNA (cfpDNA) in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and healthy individuals.
Three 30-patient cohorts were examined: patients with RRMS, in either remission or exacerbation, and healthy individuals as controls. Concentration of cfpDNA was determined using a standard fluorometric assay. Patterns of methylation in 56 gene promoters were determined by a microarray-based assay (MethDet-56). The data were analyzed to identify statistically relevant differences among the study groups.
The concentration of cfpDNA in patients with RRMS was four to eight-fold higher compared to healthy controls. Significant differences in cfpDNA methylation patterns were detected in all three comparisons: RRMS patients in remission versus healthy controls were recognized with 79.2% sensitivity and 92.9% specificity; RRMS patients in exacerbation versus healthy controls were recognized with 75.9% sensitivity and 91.5% specificity; and RRMS patients in exacerbation versus those in remission were recognized with 70.8% sensitivity and 71.2% specificity.
Based on our findings, we conclude that patients with RRMS display unique disease- and state-specific changes of cfpDNA. Our findings are of clinical significance as they could be used in development of potentially new biomarkers for MS. This is the first report in our knowledge describing such changes of cfpDNA in patients with MS.
PMCID: PMC2815078  PMID: 20064646
multiple sclerosis; cell-free plasma DNA; DNA methylation; gene promoter; biomarker; microarray
2.  Memory B cells from a subset of treatment naïve relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis patients elicit CD4+ T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production in response to MBP and MOG 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(10):2942-2956.
Recent evidence suggests that B and T cell interactions may be paramount in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) disease pathogenesis. We hypothesized that memory B cell pools from RRMS patients may specifically harbor a subset of potent neuro-antigen presenting cells that support neuro-antigen reactive T cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. To test this hypothesis, we compared CD80 and HLA-DR expression, IL-10 and LTα secretion, neuro-antigen binding capacity, and neuro-antigen presentation by memory B cells from RRMS patients to naïve B cells from RRMS patients and to memory and naïve B cells from healthy donors (HD). We identified memory B cells from some RRMS patients that elicited CD4+ T cell proliferation and IFN-γ secretion in response to myelin basic protein (MBP) and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Notwithstanding the fact that the phenotypic parameters that promote efficient antigen presentation were observed to be similar between RRMS and HD memory B cells, a corresponding capability to elicit CD4+ T cell proliferation in response to MBP and MOG was not observed in HD memory B cells. Our results demonstrate for the first time that the memory B cell pool in RRMS harbors neuro-antigen specific B cells that can activate T cells.
PMCID: PMC3072802  PMID: 20812237
multiple sclerosis; B cells; autoimmunity; antigen presentation
3.  The relationship between regional microstructural abnormalities of the corpus callosum and physical and cognitive disability in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;7:28-33.
Significant corpus callosum (CC) involvement has been found in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), even if conventional magnetic resonance imaging measures have shown poor correlation with clinical disability measures. In this work, we tested the potential of multimodal imaging of the entire CC to explain physical and cognitive disability in 47 patients with RRMS. Values of thickness, fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were extracted from 50 regions of interest (ROIs) sampled along the bundle. The relationships between clinical, neuropsychological and imaging variables were assessed by using Spearman's correlation. Multiple linear regression analysis was employed in order to identify the relative importance of imaging metrics in modeling different clinical variables. Regional fiber composition of the CC differentially explained the response variables (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS], cognitive impairment). Increases in EDSS were explained by reductions in CC thickness and MD. Cognitive impairment was mainly explained by FA reductions in the genu and splenium. Regional CC imaging properties differentially explained disability within RRMS patients revealing strong, distinct patterns of correlation with clinical and cognitive status of patients affected by this specific clinical phenotype.
•We assess corpus callosum damage in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis.•We used no a priori subdivisions to model the bundle in a continuous fashion.•Imaging–clinical relationship was explored by correlation and regression analyses.•Damage of large, heavily myelinated axons was mainly linked to physical disability.•Damage of small-diameter axons was mainly linked to cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC4299954  PMID: 25610764
Multiple sclerosis; Multimodal MRI; Corpus callosum; Disability; Cognitive impairment
4.  Improving the Characterization of Radiologically Isolated Syndrome Suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19452.
To improve the characterization of asymptomatic subjects with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities highly suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition named as “radiologically isolated syndrome” (RIS).
Quantitative MRI metrics such as brain volumes and magnetization transfer (MT) were assessed in 19 subjects previously classified as RIS, 20 demographically-matched relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 20 healthy controls (HC). Specific measures were: white matter (WM) lesion volumes (LV), total and regional brain volumes, and MT ratio (MTr) in lesions, normal-appearing WM (NAWM) and cortex.
LV was similar in RIS and RRMS, without differences in distribution and frequency at lesion mapping. Brain volumes were similarly lower in RRMS and RIS than in HC (p<0.001). Lesional-MTr was lower in RRMS than in RIS (p = 0.048); NAWM-MTr and cortical-MTr were similar in RIS and HC and lower (p<0.01) in RRMS. These values were particularly lower in RRMS than in RIS in the sensorimotor and memory networks. A multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that 13/19 RIS had ≥70% probability of being classified as RRMS on the basis of their brain volume and lesional-MTr values.
Macroscopic brain damage was similar in RIS and RRMS. However, the subtle tissue damage detected by MTr was milder in RIS than in RRMS in clinically relevant brain regions, suggesting an explanation for the lack of clinical manifestations of subjects with RIS. This new approach could be useful for narrowing down the RIS individuals with a high risk of progression to MS.
PMCID: PMC3084867  PMID: 21559385
5.  Characteristic Cerebrospinal Fluid Cytokine/Chemokine Profiles in Neuromyelitis Optica, Relapsing Remitting or Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61835.
Differences in cytokine/chemokine profiles among patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO), relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), and primary progressive MS (PPMS), and the relationships of these profiles with clinical and neuroimaging features are unclear. A greater understanding of these profiles may help in differential diagnosis.
Methods/Principal Findings
We measured 27 cytokines/chemokines and growth factors in CSF collected from 20 patients with NMO, 26 with RRMS, nine with PPMS, and 18 with other non-inflammatory neurological diseases (OND) by multiplexed fluorescent bead-based immunoassay. Interleukin (IL)-17A, IL-6, CXCL8 and CXCL10 levels were significantly higher in NMO patients than in OND and RRMS patients at relapse, while granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) and CCL4 levels were significantly higher in NMO patients than in OND patients. In NMO patients, IL-6 and CXCL8 levels were positively correlated with disability and CSF protein concentration while IL-6, CXCL8, G-CSF, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and IFN-γ were positively correlated with CSF neutrophil counts at the time of sample collection. In RRMS patients, IL-6 levels were significantly higher than in OND patients at the relapse phase while CSF cell counts were negatively correlated with the levels of CCL2. Correlation coefficients of cytokines/chemokines in the relapse phase were significantly different in three combinations, IL-6 and GM-CSF, G-CSF and GM-CSF, and GM-CSF and IFN-γ, between RRMS and NMO/NMOSD patients. In PPMS patients, CCL4 and CXCL10 levels were significantly higher than in OND patients.
Our findings suggest distinct cytokine/chemokine alterations in CSF exist among NMO, RRMS and PPMS. In NMO, over-expression of a cluster of Th17- and Th1-related proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines is characteristic, while in PPMS, increased CCL4 and CXCL10 levels may reflect on-going low grade T cell and macrophage/microglia inflammation in the central nervous system. In RRMS, only a mild elevation of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines was detectable at relapse.
PMCID: PMC3630114  PMID: 23637915
6.  Vitamin D Status Is Positively Correlated with Regulatory T Cell Function in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6635.
In several autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), a compromised regulatory T cell (Treg) function is believed to be critically involved in the disease process. In vitro, the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D has been shown to promote Treg development. A poor vitamin D status has been linked with MS incidence and MS disease activity. In the present study, we assess a potential in vivo correlation between vitamin D status and Treg function in relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) were measured in 29 RRMS patients. The number of circulating Tregs was assessed by flow-cytometry, and their functionality was tested in vitro in a CFSE-based proliferation suppression assay. Additionally, the intracellular cytokine profile of T helper cells was determined directly ex-vivo by flow-cytometry. Serum levels of 25(OH)D correlated positively with the ability of Tregs to suppress T cell proliferation (R = 0.590, P = 0.002). No correlation between 25(OH)D levels and the number of Tregs was found. The IFN-γ/IL-4 ratio (Th1/Th2-balance) was more directed towards IL-4 in patients with favourable 25(OH)D levels (R = −0.435, P = 0.023).
These results show an association of high 25(OH)D levels with an improved Treg function, and with skewing of the Th1/Th2 balance towards Th2. These findings suggest that vitamin D is an important promoter of T cell regulation in vivo in MS patients. It is tempting to speculate that our results may not only hold for MS, but also for other autoimmune diseases. Future intervention studies will show whether modulation of vitamin D status results in modulation of the T cell response and subsequent amelioration of disease activity.
PMCID: PMC2721656  PMID: 19675671
7.  Epstein-Barr virus-specific intrathecal oligoclonal IgG production in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is limited to a subset of patients and is composed of low-affinity antibodies 
The purpose of this study was to investigate intrathecal production and affinity distributions of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific antibodies in multiple sclerosis (MS) and controls.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum concentrations, quantitative intrathecal synthesis, oligoclonal bands (OCB) patterns and affinity distributions of anti-Epstein Barr virus (EBV) antibodies were evaluated in 100 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 200 age- and sex-matched controls with other inflammatory neurological disorders (OIND) and other noninflammatory neurological disorders (NIND).
Levels of anti-EBNA-1 and anti-viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgG were different in both the CSF (P <0.0001 and P <0.01, respectively) and serum (P <0.001 and P <0.05, respectively) among the RRMS, OIND and NIND. An intrathecal synthesis of anti-EBNA-1 IgG and anti-VCA IgG, as indicated by the antibody index, was underrepresented in the RRMS, OIND and NIND (range 1 to 7%). EBV-specific OCB were detected in 24% of the RRMS patients and absent in the controls. High-affinity antibodies were more elevated in the RRMS and in the OIND than in the NIND for CSF anti-EBNA-1 IgG (P <0.0001) and anti-VCA IgG (P <0.0001). After treatment with increasing concentrations of sodium thiocyanate, the EBV-specific IgG OCB had low affinity in all 24 RRMS patients analyzed.
Our findings do not support the potential role of an EBV persistent brain chronic infection in MS and suggest that an EBV-specific intrathecal oligoclonal IgG production can occur in a subset of MS patients as part of humoral polyreactivity driven by chronic brain inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4232674  PMID: 25391491
8.  Expression of Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor on Monocytes from Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Effect of Glatiramer Acetate (Copolymer 1) 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which peripheral blood monocytes play an important role. We have previously reported that patients with chronic progressive MS (CPMS) have significantly increased numbers of circulating monocytes which express the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR). In the present study, we examined the expression of uPAR on monocytes in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) not currently participating in a clinical trial and in patients with RRMS who were enrolled in a double-blind multicenter clinical trial designed to examine the effect of glatiramer acetate (copolymer 1; Copaxone) on relapsing disease. Patients with CPMS have sustained high levels of circulating uPAR-positive (uPAR+) monocytes. In comparison, patients with RRMS displayed variable levels of circulating uPAR+ monocytes. Mean values for uPAR in patients with RRMS were above those seen for controls but were not as high as those observed for patients with secondary progressive MS. Patients with RRMS in the clinical trial also had variable levels of monocyte uPAR. However, patients in the treatment group displayed lower levels following 2 years of treatment. In both placebo-treated and glatiramer acetate-treated patients, the percentage of circulating uPAR+ monocytes, as well as the density of uPAR expressed per cell (mean linear fluorescence intensity), increased just prior to the onset of a clinically documented exacerbation. Values fell dramatically with the development of clinical symptoms. uPAR levels in all groups correlated with both clinical activity and severity. Results indicate that monocyte activation is impatient in MS and that glatiramer acetate may have a significant effect on monocyte activation in patients with RRMS.
PMCID: PMC96249  PMID: 11687463
9.  Cerebrospinal fluid detection of interleukin-1β in phase of remission predicts disease progression in multiple sclerosis 
Absence of clinical and radiological activity in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is perceived as disease remission. We explored the role of persisting inflammation during remission in disease evolution.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of interleukin 1β (IL-1β), a major proinflammatory cytokine, were measured in 170 RRMS patients at the time of clinical and radiological remission. These patients were then followed up for at least 4 years, and clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) measures of disease progression were recorded.
Median follow-up of RRMS patients was 5 years. Detection of CSF IL-1β levels at the time of remission did not predict earlier relapse or new MRI lesion formation. Detection of IL-1β in the CSF was instead associated with higher progression index (PI) and Multiple Sclerosis Severity Scale (MSSS) scores at follow-up, and the number of patients with sustained Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) or Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite worsening at follow-up was higher in individuals with detectable levels of IL-1β. Patients with undetectable IL-1β in the CSF had significantly lower PI and MSSS scores and a higher probability of having a benign MS phenotype. Furthermore, patients with undetectable CSF levels of IL-1β had less retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and macular volume alterations visualized by OCT compared to patients with detectable IL-1β.
Our results suggest that persistence of a proinflammatory environment in RRMS patients during clinical and radiological remission influences midterm disease progression. Detection of IL-1β in the CSF at the time of remission appears to be a potential negative prognostic factor in RRMS patients.
PMCID: PMC3975953  PMID: 24548694
Cerebrospinal fluid; Cytokines; Inflammation; Disability; Neurodegeneration; Remission
10.  Deferiprone modulates in vitro responses by peripheral blood T cells from control and relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis subjects 
International immunopharmacology  2011;11(11):1796-1801.
T cells are important mediators of autoimmune inflammation in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Previous studies found that deferiprone, an iron chelator, suppressed disease activity in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, and inhibition of T cell proliferation was implicated as a putative mechanism. The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of deferiprone on suppressing in vitro responses of T cells from control and RRMS subjects. Peripheral blood T cells were co-stimulated with anti-CD3 + anti-CD28 and cultured with or without interleukin 2 (IL-2). Proliferating CD4+ T cells from control and RRMS subjects, cultured with or without IL-2, decreased in response to 75 μM deferiprone, although the extent of decreased proliferation of CD4+ T cells from RRMS subjects was less than for control subjects. Proliferating CD8+ T cells from control subjects, cultured with or without IL-2, also decreased in response to 75 μM deferiprone, and this decrease was seen in proliferating CD8+ T cells from RRMS cultured with IL-2. CD4+CD25+ and CD8+CD25+ cells from control subjects, cultured with or without IL-2, declined in 75 M deferiprone, but the decrease was smaller than for the CD4+ and CD8+ proliferative responses. CD4+CD25+ and CD8+CD25+ cells from RRMS subjects showed more variability than for control subjects, but CD4+CD25+ cultured with IL-2 and CD8+CD25+ cells cultured without IL-2 significantly declined in 75 μM deferiprone. CD4+FoxP3+ and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ cells tended to remain constant or increase. In summary, deferiprone induced declines in proliferative responses at a dosage that is within peak serum pharmacological concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3204173  PMID: 21807124
CD4 T cells; CD8 T cells; Regulatory T cells; T cell proliferation; Multiple sclerosis; Deferiprone
11.  Quantitative differences in the immunomodulatory effects of Rebif and Avonex in IFN-β 1a treated multiple sclerosis patients 
Interferon-β (IFN-β) is a current effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) and exerts its therapeutic effects by down-modulating the systemic immune response and cytokine signaling. In clinical practice there are several formulations of interferon including a low dose of IFN-β 1a formulation of 30μg IM once weekly (Avonex) and a high dose formulation of 44 μg SC three times weekly (Rebif). Recent studies suggest that Rebif is more efficacious compared to Avonex in preventing relapses and decreasing MRI activity in relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) patients. This study examines whether there are quantitative gene expression changes in interferon-treated RRMS patients that can explain the difference in efficacy and side effects between Rebif and Avonex. Herein, RRMS patients were treated for three months with IFN-β 1a and the levels of plasma cytokines and gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were examined. Thirty-two normal subjects were compared to thirty-two RRMS patients, of which ten were treated with Rebif and ten with Avonex. Rebif and Avonex both significantly and equally suppressed plasma TNF-α and IL-6 levels. Rebif suppressed IL-13 significantly more than Avonex. Rebif also significantly suppressed the levels of the chemokines CCL17 and RANTES, the protease ADAM8, and COX-2 at a higher degree compared to Avonex. The STAT1-inducible genes IP-10 and caspase 1 were significantly increased with Rebif compared to Avonex. In conclusion, the higher dosed, more frequently administered IFN-β 1a Rebif when compared to IFN β-1a Avonex has more potent immunomodulatory effects. These quantitative results might relate to efficacy and side-effect profile of the two IFN-β 1a formulations and provide prospective practical clinical tools to monitor treatment and adjust dosage.
PMCID: PMC3395433  PMID: 21658727
Multiple sclerosis; CNS Demyelination; Autoimmunity interferon; dosage; efficacy; cytokines; inflammatory gene expression; Signaling; Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription STAT; nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB); peripheral immune cells; EAE/TMEV
12.  Ischemia modified albumin is an indicator of oxidative stress in multiple sclerosis 
Biochemia Medica  2014;24(3):383-389.
Oligodendrocytes need iron in processes of energy generation and myelination. However, excessive levels of iron may exert iron induced oxidative stress and thus lead to tissue degeneration. Monitoring oxidative stress will be of paramount importance in follow-up of patients with many diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this study was to measure total anti-oxidative status (TAS), total oxidative status (TOS) and ischemia modified albumin (IMA) in stable relapse remitting MS (RRMS) patients.
Materials and methods:
Thirty-five RRMS patients (15 males and 20 females; median age 42 (20–55) years) and thirty-five age-sex matched healthy controls (13 males and 22 females; median age 37 (21–60) years) were included in this study. All patients were diagnosed with MS according to the criteria of McDonald.
IMA levels were significantly higher in RRMS patients (P < 0.001), while TAS and TOS did not show any significant difference between groups (P = 0.870 and P = 0.460, respectively).
Our results suggest IMA as a more efficient serum marker than TAS and TOS in detecting the oxidative stress in MS patients. Serum oxidative stress markers should be included in future study protocols besides clinical and radiological parameters.
PMCID: PMC4210259  PMID: 25351357
ischemia-modified albumin; multiple sclerosis; oxidative stress
13.  Alpha-tocopherol and MRI Outcomes in Multiple Sclerosis – Association and Prediction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54417.
Alpha-tocopherol is the main vitamin E compound in humans, and has important antioxidative and immunomodulatory properties. The aim of this study was to study alpha-tocopherol concentrations and their relationship to disease activity in Norwegian multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Prospective cohort study in 88 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients, originally included in a randomised placebo-controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids (the OFAMS study), before and during treatment with interferon beta. The patients were followed for two years with repeated 12 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and nine serum measurements of alpha-tocopherol.
During interferon beta (IFNB) treatment, each 10 µmol/L increase in alpha-tocopherol reduced the odds (CI 95%) for simultaneous new T2 lesions by 36.8 (0.5–59.8) %, p = 0.048, and for combined unique activity by 35.4 (1.6–57.7) %, p = 0.042, in a hierarchical regression model. These associations were not significant prior to IFNB treatment, and were not noticeably changed by gender, age, body mass index, HLA-DRB1*15, treatment group, compliance, or the concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, retinol, neutralising antibodies against IFNB, or the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. The corresponding odds for having new T1 gadolinium enhancing lesions two months later was reduced by 65.4 (16.5–85.7) %, p = 0.019, and for new T2 lesions by 61.0 (12.4–82.6) %, p = 0.023.
During treatment with IFNB, increasing serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol were associated with reduced odds for simultaneous and subsequent MRI disease activity in RRMS patients.
PMCID: PMC3551804  PMID: 23349882
14.  Effects of Adjunct Low-Dose Vitamin D on Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Progression: Preliminary Findings of a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial 
The aim of this preliminary study was to evaluate the effect of low-dose oral vitamin D in combination with current disease-modifying therapy on the prevention of progression of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). A phase II double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial conducted between October 2007 and October 2008 included 50 patients with confirmed RRMS aged 25 to 57 years and normal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. They were randomly allocated to receive 12 months of treatment with either escalating calcitriol doses up to 0.5 μg/day or placebo combined with disease-modifying therapy. Response to treatment was assessed at eight-week intervals. In both groups, the mean relapse rate decreased significantly (P < 0.001). In the 25 patients treated with placebo, the mean (SD) Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) increased from 1.70 (1.21) at baseline to 1.94 (1.41) at the end of study period (P < 0.01). Average EDSS and relapse rate at the end of trial did not differ between groups. Adding low-dose vitamin D to routine disease-modifying therapy had no significant effect on the EDSS score or relapse rate. A larger phase III multicenter study of vitamin D in RRMS is warranted to more assess the efficacy of this intervention.
PMCID: PMC3337486  PMID: 22567287
15.  Spatial variability and changes of metabolite concentrations in the cortico-spinal tract in multiple sclerosis using coronal CSI 
Human Brain Mapping  2012;35(3):993-1003.
We characterized metabolic changes along the cortico-spinal tract (CST) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients using a novel application of chemical shift imaging (CSI) and considering the spatial variation of metabolite levels. Thirteen relapsing-remitting (RR) and 13 primary-progressive (PP) MS patients and 16 controls underwent 1H-MR CSI, which was applied to coronal-oblique scans to sample the entire CST. The concentrations of the main metabolites, i.e., N-acetyl-aspartate, myo-Inositol (Ins), choline containing compounds (Cho) and creatine and phosphocreatine (Cr), were calculated within voxels placed in regions where the CST is located, from cerebral peduncle to corona radiata. Differences in metabolite concentrations between groups and associations between metabolite concentrations and disability were investigated, allowing for the spatial variability of metabolite concentrations in the statistical model. RRMS patients showed higher CST Cho concentration than controls, and higher CST Ins concentration than PPMS, suggesting greater inflammation and glial proliferation in the RR than in the PP course. In RRMS, a significant, albeit modest, association between greater Ins concentration and greater disability suggested that gliosis may be relevant to disability. In PPMS, lower CST Cho and Cr concentrations correlated with greater disability, suggesting that in the progressive stage of the disease, inflammation declines and energy metabolism reduces. Attention to the spatial variation of metabolite concentrations made it possible to detect in patients a greater increase in Cr concentration towards the superior voxels as compared to controls and a stronger association between Cho and disability, suggesting that this step improves our ability to identify clinically relevant metabolic changes.
PMCID: PMC4238834  PMID: 23281189
multiple sclerosis; MRI; MRS
16.  Association of Expanded Disability Status Scale and Cytokines after Intervention with Co-supplemented Hemp Seed, Evening Primrose Oils and Hot-natured Diet in Multiple Sclerosis Patients♦ 
BioImpacts : BI  2012;3(1):43-47.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). Because of limited efficacy and adverse side effects, identifying novel therapeutic and protective agents is important. The aim of this study is to examine the correlations between expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and cytokines after intervention with co-supplemented hemp seed and evening primrose oils and hot-natured diet in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
We studied a group of 23 patients with clinically definite RRMS, with EDSS<6 who received co-supplemented hemp seed and evening primrose oils with advising hot-natured diet. Clinically EDSS and immunological factors (plasma cytokines of IL-4, IFN-γ and IL-17) were assessed at baseline and after 6 months.
Mean follow-up was 180±2.9 days (N=23, 7 Male and 16 Females aged 25.0±7.5 years with disease duration 6.26±3.9 years). After 6 months, significant improvements in extended disability status score were found in the patients in agreement with decrease cytokines of IFN-γ and IL-17 and increase cytokines of IL-4. Clinical and immunological parameters showed improvement in the patients after the intervention.
Our study shows that co-supplemented hemp seed and evening primrose oils with hot-natured diet can have beneficial effects in improving clinical symptoms in relapsing remitting MS patients and significant correlation was found between EDSS and immunological findings.
PMCID: PMC3648912  PMID: 23678469
Multiple Sclerosis; Hot-natured Diet; Evening Primrose; Oenothera biennis L.; Hemp seed; Cannabis sativa L.; Inflammation; Therapy
17.  Regional White Matter Atrophy–Based Classification of Multiple Sclerosis in Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Data 
Background and Purpose
The different clinical subtypes of multiple sclerosis (MS) may reflect underlying differences in affected neuroanatomic regions. Our aim was to analyze the effectiveness of jointly using the inferior subolivary medulla oblongata volume (MOV) and the cross-sectional area of the corpus callosum in distinguishing patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), and primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
Materials and Methods
We analyzed a cross-sectional dataset of 64 patients (30 RRMS, 14 SPMS, 20 PPMS) and a separate longitudinal dataset of 25 patients (114 MR imaging examinations). Twelve patients in the longitudinal dataset had converted from RRMS to SPMS. For all images, the MOV and corpus callosum were delineated manually and the corpus callosum was parcellated into 5 segments. Patients from the cross-sectional dataset were classified as RRMS, SPMS, or PPMS by using a decision tree algorithm with the following input features: brain parenchymal fraction, age, disease duration, MOV, total corpus callosum area and areas of 5 segments of the corpus callosum. To test the robustness of the classification technique, we applied the results derived from the cross-sectional analysis to the longitudinal dataset.
MOV and central corpus callosum segment area were the 2 features retained by the decision tree. Patients with MOV >0.94 cm3 were classified as having RRMS. Patients with progressive MS were further subclassified as having SPMS if the central corpus callosum segment area was <55.12 mm2, and as having PPMS otherwise. In the cross-sectional dataset, 51/64 (80%) patients were correctly classified. For the longitudinal dataset, 88/114 (77%) patient time points were correctly classified as RRMS or SPMS.
Classification techniques revealed differences in affected neuroanatomic regions in subtypes of multiple sclerosis. The combination of central corpus callosum segment area and MOV provides good discrimination among patients with RRMS, SPMS, and PPMS.
PMCID: PMC2821733  PMID: 19696139
18.  Mycophenolate mofetil in combination with interferon beta-1a in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: A preliminary study 
The efficacy of Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) plus interferon beta-1a (IFNB-1a) in treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) was evaluated.
This was a pilot study with randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled design. Patients with RRMS and Expanded Disability Status Scale score (EDSS) of < 6.0 were included. Those with relapse within the previous two months and prior use of immunomodulatory/immunosuppressive drugs were excluded. Patients were randomized into MMF (n = 13) and placebo (n = 13) groups and received weekly intramuscular IFNB-1a plus either MMF or placebo. MMF started by 500 mg/d for one week and weekly escalated by 500 mg/d, until target divided dose of 2000 mg/d and continued for 12 months. Radiologic and clinical assessments were performed at baseline and then at month 12.
After one year of therapy, difference between the two groups in number of new T2 lesions was not statistically significant (0.54 ± 0.77 in MMF vs. 1.85 ± 3.2 in placebo group, p = 0.169). Two patients in the placebo group had gadoliniumenhanced lesions and one patient had relapse. There were 3 patients in each group with more than one point progression in EDSS. Common side effect in the MMF group included gastrointestinal upset, but no patient discontinued the treatment.
Combination of MMF with IFNB-1a in patients with RRMS is well tolerated, but the efficacy of such combination was not statistically significant in this pilot study and deserves further investigation with a larger sample size and a longer follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3063426  PMID: 21448376
Mycophenolate Mofetil; Interferon Beta-1a; Immunosuppressive; Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
19.  Inhibition of Interferon-beta Responses in Multiple Sclerosis Immune Cells Associated With High-Dose Statins 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(10):1303-1309.
To determine whether statins affect type 1 interferon responses in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Study effects of atorvastatin on type 1 interferon responses in Jurkat cells, mononuclear cells (MNCs) from therapy-naive patients with RRMS in vitro, and MNCs from interferon-treated RRMS patients in vivo in 4 conditions: no drug, statin only, interferon-beta only, and statin added on to interferon-beta therapy.
The study examined clinically stable patients with RRMS: 21 therapy-naive patients and 14 patients receiving interferon-beta with a statin.
Statin effects on in vitro and in vivo interferon-beta–induced STAT1 transcription factor activation, expression of interferon-stimulated proteins in MNCs, and serum type 1 interferon activity.
In vitro, atorvastatin dose dependently inhibited expression of interferon-stimulated P-Y-STAT1 by 44% (P< .001), interferon regulatory factor 1 protein by 30% (P= .006), and myxovirus resistance 1 protein by 32% (P=.004) compared with no-statin control in MNCs from therapy-naive RRMS patients. In vivo, 9 of 10 patients who received high-dose statins (80 mg) had a significant reduction in interferon-beta therapy–induced serum interferon-α/β activity, whereas only 2 of 4 patients who received medium-dose statins (40 mg) had reductions. High-dose add-on statin therapy significantly blocked interferon-beta function, with less P-Y-STAT1 transcription factor activation, and reduced myxovirus resistance 1 protein and viperin protein production. Medium doses of statins did not change STAT1 activation.
High-dose add-on statin therapy significantly reduces interferon-beta function and type 1 interferon responses in RRMS patients. These data provide a putative mechanism for how statins could counteract the beneficial effects of interferon-beta and worsen disease.
PMCID: PMC3910505  PMID: 22801747
20.  Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Findings of Chronic Lesions in Two Subtypes of Multiple Sclerosis: Primary Progressive Versus Relapsing Remitting 
Iranian Journal of Radiology  2013;10(3):128-132.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a highly prevalent cause of neurological disability and has different clinical subtypes with potentially different underlying pathologies. Differentiation of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) from relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) could be difficult especially in its early phases.
We compared brain metabolite concentrations and ratios in patients with PPMS and RRMS by magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI).
Patients and Methods
Thirty patients with definite MS (15 with RRMS and 15 with PPMS) underwent MRSI and their non-enhancing lesion metabolites were measured. N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), Creatine (Cr), Choline (Cho), NAA/Cr and NAA/Cho were measured and compared between the two MS subtypes.
When the two MS groups were compared together, we found that Cr was significantly increased (P value=0.008) and NAA/Cr was significantly decreased (P value=0.03) in non-enhancing lesions in PPMS compared with RRMS. There was no significant difference in NAA, Cho or NAA/Cho between the two MS subtypes.
MRS is a potential way to differentiate PPMS and RRMS.
PMCID: PMC3857974  PMID: 24348597
Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive; Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
21.  Cellular sources of dysregulated cytokines in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis 
Numerous cytokines are implicated in the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), but studies are often limited to whole blood (WB) or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), thereby omitting important information about the cellular origin of the cytokines. Knowledge about the relation between blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cell expression of cytokines and the cellular source of CSF cytokines is even more scarce.
We studied gene expression of a broad panel of cytokines in WB from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients in remission and healthy controls (HCs). Subsequently we determined the gene expression of the dysregulated cytokines in isolated PBMC subsets (CD4+, CD8+T-cells, NK-cells, B-cells, monocytes and dendritic cells) from RRMS patients and HCs and in CSF-cells from RRMS patients in clinical relapse and non-inflammatory neurological controls (NIND).
RRMS patients had increased expression of IFN-gamma (IFNG), interleukin (IL) 1-beta (IL1B), IL7, IL10, IL12A, IL15, IL23, IL27, lymphotoxin-alpha (LTA) and lymphotoxin-beta (LTB) in WB. In PBMC subsets the main sources of pro-inflammatory cytokines were T- and B-cells, whereas monocytes were the most prominent source of immunoregulatory cytokines. In CSF-cells, RRMS patients had increased expression of IFNG and CD19 and decreased expression of IL10 and CD14 compared to NINDs. CD19 expression correlated with expression of IFNG, IL7, IL12A, IL15 and LTA whereas CD14 expression correlated with IL10 expression.
Using a systematic approach, we show that expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood primarily originates from T- and B-cells, with an important exception of IFNG which is most strongly expressed by NK-cells. In CSF-cell studies, B-cells appear to be enriched in RRMS and associated with expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines; contrarily, monocytes are relatively scarce in CSF from RRMS patients and are associated with IL10 expression. Thus, our findings suggest a pathogenetic role of B-cells and an immunoregulatory role of monocytes in RRMS.
PMCID: PMC3503813  PMID: 22978757
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; Immunology; Cytokines; Blood; Cerebrospinal fluid cells; Real-time PCR
22.  Oral High-Dose Atorvastatin Treatment in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e1928.
Recent data from animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and from a pilot study indicated a possible beneficial impact of statins on MS.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Safety, tolerability and effects on disease activity of atorvastatin given alone or in combination with interferon-beta (IFN-β) were assessed in a phase II open-label baseline-to-treatment trial in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Patients with at least one gadolinium-enhancing lesion (CEL) at screening by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were eligible for the study. After a baseline period of 3 monthly MRI scans (months −2 to 0), patients followed a 9-month treatment period on 80 mg atorvastatin daily. The number of CEL in treatment months 6 to 9 compared to baseline served as the primary endpoint. Other MRI-based parameters as well as changes in clinical scores and immune responses served as secondary endpoints. Of 80 RRMS patients screened, 41 were included, among them 16 with IFN-β comedication. The high dose of 80 mg atorvastatin was well tolerated in the majority of patients, regardless of IFN-β comedication. Atorvastatin treatment led to a substantial reduction in the number and volume of CEL in two-sided multivariate analysis (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008). A trend towards a significant decrease in number and volume of CEL was also detected in patients with IFN-β comedication (p = 0.060 and p = 0.062), in contrast to patients without IFN-β comedication (p = 0.170 and p = 0.140). Immunological investigations showed no suppression in T cell response but a significant increase in IL-10 production.
Our data suggest that high-dose atorvastatin treatment in RRMS is safe and well tolerated. Moreover, MRI analysis indicates a possible beneficial effect of atorvastatin, alone or in combination with IFN-β, on the development of new CEL. Thus, our findings provide a rationale for phase II/III trials, including combination of atorvastatin with already approved immunomodulatory therapy regimens.
Trial Registration NCT00616187
PMCID: PMC2276246  PMID: 18398457
23.  Antigen microarrays identify CNS-produced autoantibodies in RRMS 
Neurology  2012;78(8):532-539.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by the local production of antibodies in the CNS and the presence of oligoclonal bands in the CSF. Antigen arrays allow the study of antibody reactivity against a large number of antigens using small volumes of fluid with greater sensitivity than ELISA. We investigated whether there were unique autoantibodies in the CSF of patients with MS as measured by antigen arrays and whether these antibodies differed from those in serum.
We used antigen arrays to analyze the reactivity of antibodies in matched serum and CSF samples of 20 patients with untreated relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 26 methylprednisolone-treated patients with RRMS, and 20 control patients with other noninflammatory neurologic conditions (ONDs) against 334 different antigens including heat shock proteins, lipids, and myelin antigens.
We found different antibody signatures in matched CSF and serum samples The targets of these antibodies included epitopes of the myelin antigens CNP, MBP, MOBP, MOG, and PLP (59%), HSP60 and HSP70 (38%), and the 68-kD neurofilament (3%). The antibody response in patients with MS was heterogeneous; CSF antibodies in individual patients reacted with different autoantigens. These autoantibodies were locally synthesized in the CNS and were of the immunoglobulin G class. Finally, we found that treatment with steroids decreased autoantibody reactivity, epitope spreading, and intrathecal autoantibody synthesis.
These studies provide a new avenue to investigate the local antibody response in the CNS, which may serve as a biomarker to monitor both disease progression and response to therapy in MS.
PMCID: PMC3280015  PMID: 22262743
24.  Reduced NAA-Levels in the NAWM of Patients with MS Is a Feature of Progression. A Study with Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy at 3 Tesla 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11625.
Reduced N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) levels in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) may visualize axonal damage even in the normal appearing white matter (NAWM). Demyelination and axonal degeneration are a hallmark in multiple sclerosis (MS).
To define the extent of axonal degeneration in the NAWM in the remote from focal lesions in patients with relapsing-remitting (RRMS) and secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
Material and Methods
37 patients with clinical definite MS (27 with RRMS, 10 with SPMS) and 8 controls were included. We used 2D 1H-MR-chemical shift imaging (TR = 1500ms, TE = 135ms, nominal resolution 1ccm) operating at 3Tesla to assess the metabolic pattern in the fronto–parietal NAWM. Ratios of NAA to creatine (Cr) and choline (Cho) and absolute concentrations of the metabolites in the NAWM were measured in each voxel matching exclusively white matter on the anatomical T2 weighted MR images.
No significant difference of absolute concentrations for NAA, Cr and Cho or metabolite ratios were found between RRMS and controls. In SPMS, the NAA/Cr ratio and absolute concentrations for NAA and Cr were significantly reduced compared to RRMS and to controls.
In our study SPMS patients, but not RRMS patients were characterized by low NAA levels. Reduced NAA-levels in the NAWM of patients with MS is a feature of progression.
PMCID: PMC2907390  PMID: 20652023
25.  Reduction of Disease Activity and Disability With High-Dose Cyclophosphamide in Patients With Aggressive Multiple Sclerosis 
Archives of neurology  2008;65(8):1044-1051.
To explore the safety and effectiveness of high-dose cyclophosphamide (HiCy) without bone marrow transplantation in patients with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS).
A 2-year open-label trial of patients with aggressive relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) given an immunoablative regimen of HiCy (50 mg/kg/d for 4 consecutive days) with no subsequent immunomodulatory therapy unless disease activity reappeared that required rescue therapy.
The Johns Hopkins University Multiple Sclerosis Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
A total of 21 patients with RRMS were screened for eligibility and 9 patients were enrolled in the trial. Patients were required to have 2 or more gadolinium-enhancing lesions on each of 2 pretreatment magnetic resonance imaging scans, at least 1 clinical exacerbation in the 12 months prior to HiCy treatment, or a sustained increase of 1.0 point or higher on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) in the preceding year.
Patients received 50 mg/kg/d of cyclophosphamide intravenously for 4 consecutive days, followed by 5 μg/kg/d of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor 6 days after completion of HiCy treatment, until the absolute neutrophil count exceeded 1.0×109 cells/L for 2 consecutive days.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary outcome of the study was the safety and tolerability of HiCy in patients with RRMS. Secondary outcome measures included a change in gadolinium-enhancing lesions on magnetic resonance images and a change in disability measures (EDSS and Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite).
Nine patients were treated and followed up for a mean period of 23 months. Eight patients had failed conventional therapy and 1 was treatment naive. The median age at time of entry was 29 years (range, 20-47 years). All patients developed transient total or near-total pancytopenia as expected, followed by hematopoietic recovery in 10 to 17 days, stimulated by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. There were no deaths or unexpected serious adverse events. There was a statistically significant reduction in disability (EDSS) at follow-up (mean [SD] decrease, 2.11[1.97]; 39.4%; P=.02). The mean(SD) number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions on the 2 pretreatment scans were 6.5(2.1) and 1.2(2.3) at follow-up (81.4% reduction; P=.01). Two patients required rescue treatment with other immunomodulatory therapies during the study owing to MS exacerbations.
Treatment with HiCy was safe and well tolerated in our patients with MS. Patients experienced a pronounced reduction in disease activity and disability after HiCy treatment. This immunoablative regimen of cyclophosphamide for patients with aggressive MS is worthy of further study and may be an alternative to bone marrow transplantation.
PMCID: PMC2574697  PMID: 18541787

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