BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Sperm-associated antigen 16 (SPAG16), a sperm protein which is upregulated in reactive astrocytes in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions, has recently been identified as a novel autoantibody target in MS. The aim of this study was to investigate whether anti-SPAG16 antibody levels differ between MS subtypes (relapsing-remitting, RR; primary or secondary progressive, PP, SP) and whether antibody positivity is associated with clinical characteristics.
METHODS: Plasma anti-SPAG16 antibody levels were determined by recombinant protein enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 374 MS patients (274 RRMS, 39 SPMS and 61 PPMS) and 106 healthy controls.
RESULTS: Significantly elevated anti-SPAG16 antibodies were found in 22% of MS patients with 93% specificity. Anti-SPAG16 seropositivity was associated with an increased Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) in overall MS. A higher proportion of PPMS patients showed anti-SPAG16 antibody reactivity (34%) compared to RRMS (19%) and SPMS (26%), and presented with higher anti-SPAG16 antibody levels. Seropositive PPMS patients had a significantly increased progression index compared to seronegative patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Anti-SPAG16 antibodies are associated with an increased EDSS in overall MS, indicating that they are linked to a worse MS disease outcome. Moreover, the presence of anti-SPAG16 antibodies may be a biomarker for a more severe disease in PPMS patients, as indicated by an increased progression index.
Move-over myelin basic protein here’s another antigen to get your head around and this is Sperm-associated antigen 16 (SPAG16), which is also found in astrocytes and if present was not a good prognostic marker. I suspect this is more chicken rather than egg and indicates astrocytic damage.