The cysteine protease caspase-1 plays a crucial part in the inflammatory process due to its ability to proteolitically activate proinflammatory cytokine precursors, such as interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the CNS in which the pathogenic process is mainly orchestrated by proinflammatory cytokines.
The role of caspase-1 in multiple sclerosis was evaluated by measuring its mRNA levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from seven patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis every 15 days over a 1 year period. The recorded levels were compared with clinical and MRI evidence of disease activity. Brain MRI was performed monthly in each patient.
Caspase-1 mRNA levels were significantly increased in PBMCs from patients with multiple sclerosis compared with healthy controls (p<0.001). In patients with multiple sclerosis, a twofold to threefold increase of caspase-1 mRNA mean level was found in the week preceding an acute attack (p<0.05). The magnitude of caspase-1 mRNA increase correlated with the number of new (p=0.01) but not persisting gadolinium enhancing brain MRI lesions.
In conclusion, caspase-1 might be involved in the immune mediated process underlying CNS inflammation and might represent a suitable peripheral immunological marker of disease activity in multiple sclerosis.
- multiple sclerosis
- proinflammatory cytokines
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