Objective: To investigate changes in immune markers and frequencies throughout disease progression in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Methods: In this longitudinal study, serial blood samples were collected from 21 patients with ALS over a time period of up to 16 months. Flow cytometry was used to quantitate CD14, HLA-DR, and CD16 marker expression on monocyte subpopulations and neutrophils, as well as their cell population frequencies. A Generalized Estimating Equation model was used to assess the association between changes in these immune parameters and disease duration and the Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). Results: CD14 expression on monocyte subpopulations increased with both disease duration and a decrease in ALSFRS-R score in patients with ALS. HLA-DR expression on monocyte subpopulations also increased with disease severity and/or duration. The expression of CD16 did not change relative to disease duration or ALSFRS-R. Finally, patients had a reduction in non-classical monocytes and an increase in the classical to non-classical monocyte ratio throughout disease duration. Conclusion: The progressive immunological changes observed in this study provide further support that monocytes are implicated in ALS pathology. Monocytic CD14 and HLA-DR surface proteins may serve as a therapeutic target or criteria for the recruitment of patients with ALS into clinical trials for immunomodulatory therapies.
Keywords: ALSFRS-R; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; CD14; HLA-DR; monocyte; myeloid.