Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating autoimmune disorder. Currently, there is a lack of effective treatment for the progressive form of MS, partly due to insensitive readout for neurodegeneration. The recent development of sensitive assays for neurofilament light chain (NfL) has made it a potential new biomarker in predicting MS disease activity and progression, providing an additional readout in clinical trials. However, NfL is elevated in other neurodegenerative disorders besides MS, and, furthermore, it is also confounded by age, body mass index (BMI), and blood volume. Additionally, there is considerable overlap in the range of serum NfL (sNfL) levels compared to healthy controls. These confounders demonstrate the limitations of using solely NfL as a marker to monitor disease activity in MS patients. Other blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of axonal damage, neuronal damage, glial dysfunction, demyelination, and inflammation have been studied as actionable biomarkers for MS and have provided insight into the pathology underlying the disease process of MS. However, these other biomarkers may be plagued with similar issues as NfL. Using biomarkers of a bioinformatic approach that includes cellular studies, micro-RNAs (miRNAs), extracellular vesicles (EVs), metabolomics, metabolites and the microbiome may prove to be useful in developing a more comprehensive panel that addresses the limitations of using a single biomarker. Therefore, more research with recent technological and statistical approaches is needed to identify novel and useful diagnostic and prognostic biomarker tools in MS.
Keywords: biomarkers; cytokines; disease progression; metabolites; microbiome; multiple sclerosis; neurofilament light chain; prognosis; sCD40L.