Objectives: We previously reported a correlation between levels of micro particles carrying CD31 (PMP(CD31+)) and disease activity in MS. However, the effects of long term (12 month) treatment with high dose, high frequency interferon-β1a (Rebif™) on plasma levels of PMP(CD31+), PMP(CD146+), and PMP(CD54+) and MRI measures of disease activity have not yet been assessed.
Methods: During this prospective 1-year study, we used flow cytometry to measure changes in plasma micro particles (PMP) bearing CD31 (PMP(CD31+)), CD146 (PMP(CD146+)), and CD54/ICAM-1 (PMP(CD54+)) in 16 consecutive patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) before and after 3, 6, and 12 months of subcutaneous therapy with interferon-beta1a (44 micrograms, 3X weekly). At each visit, clinical exams and expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores were recorded.
Results: Plasma levels of PMP(CD31+), and PMP(CD54+) were significantly reduced by treatment with IFN-β1a. PMP(CD146+) appeared to decrease only at 3 months and did not persist at 6 and 12 months (p = 0.0511). In addition, the decrease in plasma levels of PMP(CD31+) and PMP(CD54+) levels at 12 months were associated with a significant decrease in the number and volume of contrast enhancing T1-weigthed lesions.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that serial measurement of plasma micro particles (PMP), particularly in the initial stages of MS (when neuro-inflammatory cascades are more intense), may serve as reliable and reproducible surrogate markers of response to IFN-β1a therapy for MS. In addition, the progressive decline in plasma levels of PMP(CD31+) and PMP(CD54+) further supports the concept that IFN-β1a exerts stabilizing effect on the cerebral endothelial cells during pathogenesis of MS.