© 2015 Malhotra et al.; licensee BioMed Central. Background: High mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a transcriptional regulator that is receiving increasing attention in autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we investigated the role of HMGB1 in the peripheral blood compartment from MS patients. Methods: HMGB1 mRNA expression levels were determined by PCR in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 29 healthy controls and 57 untreated MS patients (26 with relapsing-remitting MS - RRMS, 13 with secondary progressive MS - SPMS, and 18 with primary progressive MS - PPMS). HMGB1 protein levels were measured by ELISA in serum samples from 18 HC and 37 untreated MS patients (13 with RRMS, 14 with SPMS, and 10 with PPMS). Results: HMGB1 expression levels were increased in PBMC from the whole MS group compared with controls (P = 0.03). Further stratification of the MS group revealed higher expression levels in PBMC from patients with relapse-onset MS, and differences were statistically significant for RRMS patients compared with PPMS patients and controls (P = 4 × 10-5 and P = 0.005, respectively) and also for SPMS patients compared with PPMS patients (P = 0.001). HMGB1 serum levels were increased in the whole MS group compared with controls (P = 2 × 10-4). In MS clinical forms, the highest HMGB1 serum levels were observed in RRMS patients, and differences were statistically significant compared to PPMS patients (P = 5 × 10-5), SPMS patients (P = 0.001), and controls (P = 0.001). Conclusions: These results point to a role of HMGB1 mRNA and protein levels as disease activity biomarkers to discriminate the more inflammatory relapse-onset MS forms, particularly RRMS, from the less inflammatory PPMS form of the disease.
- High mobility group box protein 1
- Multiple sclerosis