High levels of serum soluble TWEAK are associated with neuroinflammation during multiple sclerosis


  • Maarouf Adil
  • Stephan Delphine
  • Ranjeva Marie-Pierre
  • Ranjeva Jean-Philippe
  • Pelletier Jean
  • Audoin Bertrand
  • Khrestchatisky Michel
  • Desplat-Jégo Sophie


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Biomarker
  • Cytokine


Background: Inflammation and demyelination are the main processes in multiple sclerosis. Nevertheless, to date, blood biomarkers of inflammation are lacking. TWEAK, a transmembrane protein that belongs to the TNF ligand family , has been previously identified as a potential candidate. Methods: Twenty-eight patients (9 males, 19 females) were prospectively included after a first clinical episode suggestive of multiple sclerosis and clinically followed during 3 years. Fifty-seven healthy controls were also included. TWEAK serum levels and MRI exams including magnetization transfer imaging were performed at baseline, 6-and 12-month follow-up. Results: TWEAK serum levels were significantly increased in the patient group (mean baseline = 1086 ± 493 pg/ mL, mean M6 = 624 ± 302 pg/mL and mean M12 = 578 ± 245 pg/mL) compared to healthy controls (mean = 467 ± 177 pg/mL; respectively p < 0.0001, 0.01 and 0.06). Serum levels of soluble TWEAK were significantly increased during relapses, compared to time periods without any relapse (respectively 935 ± 489 pg/mL and 611 ± 292 pg/mL, p = 0.0005). Moreover, patients presenting at least one gadolinium-enhanced CNS lesion at base-line (n = 7) displayed significantly increased serum TWEAK levels in comparison with patients without any gadolin-ium-enhanced lesion at baseline (n = 21) (respectively 1421 ± 657 pg/mL vs 975 ± 382 pg/mL; p = 0.02). Finally, no correlation was evidenced between TWEAK serum levels and the extent of brain tissue damage assessed by magneti-zation transfer ratio. Conclusions: The present study showed that TWEAK serum levels are increased in MS patients, in relation to the disease activity. This simple and reproducible serum test could be used as a marker of ongoing inflammation, contributing in the follow-up and the care of MS patients. Thus, TWEAK is a promising serum marker of the best window to perform brain MRI, optimizing the disease control in patients.

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