Brain endothelial cell expression of SPARCL-1 is specific to chronic multiple sclerosis lesions and is regulated by inflammatory mediators in vitro

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Cell matrix modulating protein SPARCL-1 is highly expressed by astrocytes during CNS development and following acute CNS damage. Applying NanoLC-MS/MS to CSF of RRMS and SPMS patients, we identified SPARCL-1 as differentially expressed between these two stages of MS, suggesting a potential as CSF biomarker to differentiate RRMS from SPMS and a role in MS pathogenesis.


This study examines the potential of SPARCL-1 as CSF biomarker discriminating RRMS from SPMS in three independent cohorts (n = 249), analyses its expression pattern in MS lesions (n = 26), and studies its regulation in cultured human brain microvasculature endothelial cells (BEC) after exposure to MS-relevant inflammatory mediators.


SPARCL-1 expression in CSF was significantly higher in SPMS compared to RRMS in a Dutch cohort of 76 patients. This finding was not replicated in 2 additional cohorts of MS patients from Sweden (n = 81) and Switzerland (n = 92). In chronic MS lesions, but not active lesions or NAWM, a vessel expression pattern of SPARCL-1 was observed in addition to the expression by astrocytes. EC were found to express SPARCL-1 in chronic MS lesions, and SPARCL-1 expression was regulated by MS-relevant inflammatory mediators in cultured human BEC.


Conflicting results of SPARCL-1′s differential expression in CSF of three independent cohorts of RRMS and SPMS patients precludes its use as biomarker for disease progression. The expression of SPARCL-1 by BEC in chronic MS lesions together with its regulation by inflammatory mediators in vitro suggest a role for SPARCL-1 in MS neuropathology, possibly at the brain vascular level.

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