Sialylation of Thomsen–Friedenreich antigen is a noninvasive blood-based biomarker for GNE myopathy

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Aim: The exact pathomechanism of GNE myopathy remains elusive, but likely involves aberrant sialylation. We explored sialylation status of blood-based glycans as potential disease markers. Methods: We employed immunoblotting, lectin histochemistry and mass spectrometry. Results: GNE myopathy muscle showed hyposialylation of predominantly O-linked glycans. The O-linked glycome of patients' plasma compared with controls showed increased amounts of desialylated Thomsen–Friedenreich (T)-antigen, and/or decreased amounts of its sialylated form, ST-antigen. Importantly, all patients had increased T/ST ratios compared with controls. These ratios were normalized in a patient treated with intravenous immunoglobulins as a source of sialic acid. Discussion: GNE myopathy clinical trial data will reveal whether T/ST ratios correlate to muscle function. Conclusion: Plasma T/ST ratios are a robust blood-based biomarker for GNE myopathy, and may also help explain the pathology and course of the disease.

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