Research: transcribing people with MS

Ottoboni et al. An RNA profile identifies two subsets of multiple sclerosis patients differing in disease activity. Sci Transl Med. 2012;4(153):153ra131.

The multiple sclerosis (MS) patient population is highly heterogeneous in terms of disease course and treatment response. We used a transcriptional profile generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells to define the structure of an MS patient population. Two subsets of MS subjects (MSA and MSB) were found among 141 untreated subjects. We replicated this structure in two additional groups of MS subjects treated with one of the two first-line disease-modifying treatments in MS: glatiramer acetate (GA) (n = 94) and interferon-β (IFN-β) (n = 128). One of the two subsets of subjects (MSA) was distinguished by higher expression of molecules involved in lymphocyte signaling pathways. Further, subjects in this MSA subset were more likely to have a new inflammatory event while on treatment with either GA or IFN-β (P = 0.0077). We thus report a transcriptional signature that differentiates subjects with MS into two classes with different levels of disease activity.

This study has done a transcriptome analysis of white blood cells and have grouped MSers into two profile and one has a higher expression of networks of immune proteins in white blood cells than the other. This group of people had more active disease than the other group. So blood in MSers can be different but it is not clear what this says as there are other methods of saying if disease is active or not such as MRI. The authors believe that stratifying MSers into meaningful subsets in this manner has potential for personalizing care and for enhancing our understanding of MS.

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