Targeted Multiple Reaction Monitoring Analysis of CSF Identifies UCHL1 and GPNMB as Candidate Biomarkers for ALS
J Mol Neurosci. 2019, 69(4):643-657

Zhu S, Wuolikainen A, Wu J, Öhman A, Wingsle G, Moritz T, Andersen PM, Forsgren L, Trupp M

Abstract
The neurodegenerative diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson's disease (PD) share some common molecular deficits including disruption of protein homeostasis leading to disease-specific protein aggregation. While insoluble protein aggregates are the defining pathological confirmation of diagnosis, patient stratification based on early molecular etiologies may identify distinct subgroups within a clinical diagnosis that would respond differently in therapeutic development programs. We are developing targeted multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mass spectrometry methods to rigorously quantify CSF proteins from known disease genes involved in lysosomal, ubiquitin-proteasomal, and autophagy pathways. Analysis of CSF from 21 PD, 21 ALS, and 25 control patients, rigorously matched for gender, age, and age of sample, revealed significant changes in peptide levels between PD, ALS, and control. In patients with PD, levels of two peptides for chromogranin B (CHGB, secretogranin 1) were significantly reduced. In CSF of patients with ALS, levels of two peptides from ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase like protein 1 (UCHL1) and one peptide each for glycoprotein non-metastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB) and cathepsin D (CTSD) were all increased. Analysis of patients with ALS separated into two groups based on length of survival after CSF sampling revealed that the increases in GPNMB and UCHL1 were specific for short-lived ALS patients. While analysis of additional cohorts is required to validate these candidate biomarkers, this study suggests methods for stratification of ALS patients for clinical trials and identifies targets for drug efficacy measurements during therapeutic development.

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