Researchers find a way to predict disease course in ALS patients

By measuring immune cells in the cerebrospinal fluid when ALS is diagnosed, it is possible to predict how quickly the disease will progress according to a study from Karolinska Institutet published in Nature Communications.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare but fatal disease of nerve cells that leads to paralysis of voluntary muscles and death. In a new study, researchers from Karolinska Institutet have discovered a way to predict the course of disease in patients with ALS.

Between March 2016 and March 2020, researchers collected fresh blood and brain fluid from 89 patients in Stockholm who had recently been diagnosed with ALS. The patients were followed up to October 2020.

The study showed that a high percentage of so-called effector T cells is associated with a low survival rate. At the same time, a high proportion of active regulatory T cells indicates a protective role against the rapid progression of the disease. The findings provide new evidence for the involvement of T cells in the course of the disease and show that specific types of effector T cells accumulate in the cerebrospinal fluid of ALS patients.

The study could contribute to the development of new therapies that target immune cells to slow the course of the disease.”

Solmaz Yazdani, PhD student, Karolinska Institutet’s Institute for Environmental Medicine and first author of the study

The next step in her research is the study How T cells contribute to the course of the disease.

“We have plans to collect samples from these individuals to study changes in immune cells over time. In addition, we want to study effector T cells in more detail to understand their role in ALS.”

The study was funded by the Ulla-Carin Lindquist Foundation for ALS and Neuro Research, King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria’s Masonic Foundation, among others.


Journal reference:

Yazdani, S. et al. (2022) T-cell responses at diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis predict disease progression. Nature Communications.

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