Acta Neurol Scand. 2003 Jul;108(1):16-21
Gunnarsson M, Sundstrom P, Stigbrand T, Jensen PE.
Department of Immunology, Umea University, Umea, Sweden, Department of Neurology, Umea University, Umea, Sweden; Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease with unknown etiology.
Various proteinases have been observed in increased levels in the central nervous system of patients with MS, which may contribute to the release of immunogenic myelin components.
alpha2-Macroglobulin (alpha2M) inhibits a broad spectrum of proteinases sterically, undergoing major conformational changes induced by the proteinases themselves.
Moreover, alpha2M acts as a carrier of several cytokines in the systemic circulation.
By use of radial immunodiffusion, we determined the total alpha2M levels in plasma from 28 MS patients and 15 control subjects [14 patients with other neurologic diseases (OND) and one healthy individual].
No significant differences in total alpha2M concentration were observed between the MS patients and the control subjects.
A comparison of the degree of alpha2M transformation in MS patients with different disease courses and controls was performed, using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for binding to native and transformed alpha2M, respectively.
The fractions of transformed alpha2M were significantly increased in patients with secondary or primary progressive disease course compared with the controls.
No significant differences were obtained using a native-specific mAb.
At least a major proportion of alpha2M from the MS patients was able to change conformation from its native to its transformed state, as demonstrated by a shift in mAb reactivity, following methylamine treatment of the plasma samples.
In conclusion, the results indicate that plasma alpha2M may be inactivated at a higher degree in patients with chronic progressive MS compared with patients with OND.
This may influence the levels of proteinases and cytokines in the systemic circulation and may furthermore have diagnostic implications.