MicroRNAs May Serve as Biomarkers of Multiple Sclerosis Progression

MicroRNAs could monitor the severity of MS in the future.

MicroRNAs in the blood may serve as a biomarker for multiple sclerosis (MS) progression, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

In a previous study, the investigators showed how MS patients have a specific set of microRNAs in the blood that could help diagnose the disease. In the current study, the authors found that microRNAs are correlated with brain and spinal damage, according to Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

For the study, investigators split patients with MS into 2 groups. They compared the microRNAs in the patients’ blood samples with the brain and spinal lesions detected by an MRI.

The results of the study showed that some microRNAs appeared to be protective, while others were found to be harmful, and were linked to brain and spinal cord injury. Furthermore, the microRNAs were associated with different damage locations, MS News Today reported.

The investigators also found that specific microRNAs were associated with lesions or atrophy, and their presence could help physicians identify the mechanisms involved in each patient.

“These findings tell us the disease is heterogeneous,” co-senior author Rohit Bakshi, MD, MA, said in a press release. “There’s a complex set of mechanisms at play, and it may vary from patient to patient. Another implication of this research is that it could eventually lead to us having a blood test to identify the subtype of MS in a patient, to help guide therapeutic decisions and prognosis.”

Although the study’s findings show promise, more research needs to be done, according to investigators.

“MicroRNAs serve as biomarkers of the underlying MS disease processes, once validated and standardized for clinical setting,” co-senior author Roopali Gandhi, PhD, said in a press release. “In addition, these markers have the potential to provide novel treatment targets.”