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J Neurol Sci. 2008 Dec 15;275(1-2):106-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2008.07.032. Epub 2008 Sep 9.

Cerebrospinal fluid evidence of increased extra-mitochondrial glucose metabolism implicates mitochondrial dysfunction in multiple sclerosis disease progression.

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University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


In contrast to relapse, the mechanisms of multiple sclerosis (MS) disease progression are less understood and appear not to be exclusively inflammatory in nature. In this pilot study we investigated the relationship between disturbed CNS energy metabolism and MS disease progression. We tested the hypothesis that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of sorbitol, fructose, and lactate, all metabolites of extra-mitochondrial glucose metabolism, would be elevated in secondary progressive (SP) MS patients and would be associated with worsening neurologic disability. We measured metabolite concentrations by gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric and enzymatic methods in archived CSF samples from 85 MS patients [31 relapsing-remitting (RR) and 54 SP patients] and 18 healthy controls. We found that concentrations of all three metabolites, but not concentrations of glucose or myoinositol, were significantly increased in CSF from SP and, to a lesser degree, RR patients, compared to controls. Furthermore, CSF concentrations of sorbitol and fructose (polyol pathway metabolites), but not lactate (anaerobic glycolysis metabolite), correlated positively and significantly with Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, an index of neurologic disability in MS patients. We conclude that extra-mitochondrial glucose metabolism is increased in MS patients and is associated with disease progression evidenced by increasing EDSS score. As extra-mitochondrial glucose metabolism increases with impaired mitochondrial metabolism of glucose, these findings implicate mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of MS disease progression. CSF metabolic profiling may be useful in clarifying the role of mitochondrial pathology in progression and in targeting and monitoring therapies for disease progression that aim to preserve or boost mitochondrial glucose metabolism.

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