Objectives: The present study was planned to investigate the relationship between the plasma lipid profile and disease activity in patients with a first clinical episode suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Material and methods: Eighteen consecutive out-patients underwent a monthly brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood sample and neurological assessment over 6 months. Blood samples were used to evaluate total cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as their lipoprotein fractions. Plasma total apolipoprotein E concentration was also determined.
Results: We found a significant correlation between the mean number of enhancing lesions and the mean plasma level of both total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. The total plasma cholesterol level increased on average by 4.4 mg/dl for each enhancing lesion.
Conclusion: Our preliminary data suggest a potential role of plasma cholesterol level as a biological marker of disease activity after a first demyelinating event. Further studies need, however, to be designed to determine whether the plasma cholesterol level is of practical use in monitoring the disease course.