Simple blood test may predict MRI disease activity in MS

December 14, 2017
According to a new study, a blood test to monitor a nerve protein in the blood of people with multiple sclerosis may help predict whether disease activity is flaring up. The nerve protein, called neurofilament light chain, is a component of nerve cells and can be detected in the blood stream and spinal fluid when nerve cells die. The researchers suggest blood tests for this nerve protein may be an effective way to monitor disease activity and how well the treatment is working.
 
For the two-year study, researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, enrolled 85 people who had relapsing-remitting MS for an average of two years. During the first six months, participants did not receive disease-modifying treatment. For the remaining 18 months, they were all treated with interferon-beta 1a. For the first nine months, participants had monthly magnetic resonance imaging scans. They then had MRI scans again at year one and year two. Blood samples were also taken at the beginning of the study, at three and six months, as well as at year one and year two.
 
Researchers found that nerve protein levels in the blood were higher when MRI detected new T1 and T2 lesions. Those with new T1 lesions had 37.3 picograms per milliliter of the nerve protein in their blood compared with 28 pg/ml for people without new T1 lesions. Those with new T2 lesions had 37.3 pg/ml of nerve protein in the blood compared with 27.7 pg/ml for those without new T2 lesions. Increased nerve protein levels were present for a three-month time period during the development of new lesions. Nerve protein levels also fell when treatment with interferon-beta 1a treatment began. The researchers found that an increase of 10 pg/ml in a person was associated with a 48-percent increased risk of developing a new T1 lesion and 62-percent increased risk of a new T2 lesion.
 
The study was published in the online issue of Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation, an official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

MS Focus Lending Library


Books, DVDs, and CDs are available for loan, by mail across the United States.
Learn more

Study uncovers potential risks of common MS treatment


Study finds an increased risk of events such as stroke, migraine, and depression, and abnormalities in the blood with taking beta interferon for MS.
Learn more