WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) May 22 - Assessment of endothelial dysfunction, based on shedding of endothelial microparticles (EMP) expressing platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31) in plasma, can be used as a marker of disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers from the University of Miami, Florida.
It has been shown previously that endothelial dysfunction may contribute to the progression of MS, "but direct assay of endothelium has been difficult," Dr. Wenche Jy and colleagues explain in the May 22nd issue of Neurology.
They developed a flow cytometric assay of EMP and studied its usefulness in 30 MS patients with exacerbation of disease, 20 MS patients in remission and 48 control patients.
Plasma concentrations of CD31 and EMP were nearly threefold higher in MS patients with disease exacerbation compared with healthy controls, the research team reports. CD31 and EMP concentrations returned almost to control values during remission. Moreover, CD31 + EMP was as sensitive as gadolinium-enhanced brain magnetic resonance imaging in detecting disease activity.
Dr. Jy's group also reports that concentrations of the vitronectin receptor CD51 and EMP concentrations remained elevated during both MS exacerbation and remission. The researchers suggest that CD31 + EMP is a marker of acute endothelial injury, while CD51 + EMP is a marker of chronic injury to the endothelium.
"If we can develop a new agent or medication that can block the activity of the markers on the microparticles, we may be able to block the migration of the inflammatory cells to the brain and potentially stop the inflammatory cascade," Dr. Jy told Reuters Health. "More work on more MS patients needs to be done to establish our method as a clinical test."
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