Background: There is an urgent need for biomarkers in multiple sclerosis (MS) that can reliably measure ongoing disease activity relative to inflammation, neurodegeneration, and demyelination/remyelination. Fetuin-A was recently identified as a potential biomarker in MS cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Fetuin-A has diverse functions, including a role in immune pathways.
Objective: The objective of this research is to investigate whether fetuin-A is a direct indicator of disease activity.
Methods: We measured fetuin-A in CSF and plasma of patients with MS and correlated these findings to clinical disease activity and natalizumab response. Fetuin-A expression was characterized in MS brain tissue and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice. We also examined the pathogenic role of fetuin-A in EAE using fetuin-A-deficient mice.
Results: Elevated CSF fetuin-A correlated with disease activity in MS. In natalizumab-treated patients, CSF fetuin-A levels were reduced one year post-treatment, correlating with therapeutic response. Fetuin-A was markedly elevated in demyelinated lesions and in gray matter within MS brain tissue. Similarly, fetuin-A was elevated in degenerating neurons around demyelinated lesions in EAE. Fetuin-A-deficient mice demonstrated delayed onset and reduced severity of EAE symptoms.
Conclusions: Our results show that CSF fetuin-A is a biomarker of disease activity and natalizumab response in MS. Neuronal expression of fetuin-A suggests that fetuin-A may play a pathological role in the disease process.
Keywords: biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; fetuin-A; multiple sclerosis; natalizumab.