Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with chronic degeneration of the central nervous system and may cause permanent neurological problems and considerable disability. While its causes remain unclear, its extensive phenotypic variability makes its prognosis and treatment difficult. The identification of serum proteomic biomarkers of MS progression could further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms related to MS disease processes. In the current study, we used isobaric tagging for relative and absolute protein quantification (iTRAQ) methodology and advanced multivariate statistical analysis to quantify and identify potential serum biomarker proteins of MS progression. We identified a panel of 11 proteins and combined them into a classifier that best classified samples into the two disease groups. The estimated area under the receiver operating curve of this classifier was 0.88 (p-value=0.017), with 86% sensitivity and specificity. The identified proteins encompassed processes related to inflammation, opsonization, and complement activation. Results from this study are in particular valuable to design a targeted Multiple Reaction Monitoring mass spectrometry based (MRM-MS) assay to conduct an external validation in an independent and larger cohort of patients. Validated biomarkers may result in the development of a minimally-invasive tool to monitor MS progression and complement current clinical practices.
Biological significance: A hallmark of multiple sclerosis is the unpredictable disease course (progression). There are currently no clinically useful biomarkers of MS disease progression; most work has focused on the analysis of CSF, which requires an invasive procedure. Here, we explore the potential of proteomics to identify panels of serum biomarkers of disease progression in MS. By comparing the protein signatures of two challenging to obtain, but well-defined, MS phenotypic groups at the extremes of progression (benign and aggressive cases of MS), we identified proteins that encompass processes related to inflammation, opsonization, and complement activation. Findings require validation, but are an important step on the pathway to clinically useful biomarker discovery. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein dynamics in health and disease. Guest Editors: Pierre Thibault and Anne-Claude Gingras.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Classifier; MS progression; Multiple sclerosis; Serum proteomics; iTRAQ mass spectrometry.
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