Minimally Invasive Biomarkers for Multiple Sclerosis

An article published in "Experimental Biology and Medicine" (Volume 243, Issue 4, February 2018) reports the identification of new minimally invasive biomarkers for patients with multiple sclerosis.  The study, led by Dr. Patricia McLaughlin, Professor of Neural & Behavioral Sciences at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, demonstrates that inflammatory-related serum cytokines exhibit altered expression during disease progression and in response to treatment in animal models and patients.  

MS is a progressively debilitating, neurodegenerative disorder that impacts 2.3 million people worldwide. MS attacks myelin, the fatty substance that insulates nerve fibers, and disrupts communication between the brain/spinal cord and the body. Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is an off-label therapeutic prescribed for a variety of immune-related disorders, including MS.  In MS and other immune-mediated disorders, cytokines released from proliferating immune cells release cytokines that cause inflammation. Previous studies by Dr. McLaughlin’s group showed that the endogenous neuropeptide opioid growth factor (OGF), which inhibits cytokine release, is reduced in MS patients and restored with LDN treatment. Thus, easily obtainable inflammatory-related cytokines may be valid biomarkers for monitoring disease progression and response to therapy.   

The present study by Dr. McLaughlin and colleagues is a part of continuing research investigating minimally invasive biomarkers related to the cause and progression of MS. Experiments conducted by Michael Ludwig, a doctoral candidate in Anatomy and currently an Assistant Professor at Franciscan University, School of Health Professions, in Baton Rouge, LA, identifies serum cytokines that exhibit altered expression during the course of the disease in both animal models and patients. Furthermore, treatment with either exogenous OGF or LDN normalized serum levels for these cytokines, suggesting that they may be valid biomarkers for monitoring response to therapy. Dr. McLaughlin stated that “Identification of inflammatory cytokines that have expression profiles mediated by OGF or LDN therapy increase our panel of potential biomarkers for MS. We hope that continued research will identify more specific cytokines and allow us to assemble a reliable panel of minimally invasive biomarkers related to the etiology and progression of MS.”

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of "Experimental Biology & Medicine", said, “McLaughlin and colleagues have researched OGF signaling for several decades, and this seminal discovery of dysregulation in OGF expression in MS patients, and animal models, is very exciting and could lead to prognostic biomarkers for this autoimmune disorder.”

"Experimental Biology and Medicineis a journal dedicated to the publication of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences. The journal was first established in 1903. "Experimental Biology and Medicine" is the journal of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. To learn about the benefits of society membership visit If you are interested in publishing in the journal, please visit

Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine


Categories: Research and Development, Healthcare and Medical News, Medical Research

Tags: biomarkers, ms, multiple sclerosis, research, study

About Experimental Biology and Medicine

Experimental Biology and Medicine is a journal dedicated to the publication of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences. The journal was first established in 1903.

Danna B. Zimmer
Assistant to the Editor-in-Cheif, Experimental Biology and Medicine