Early diagnosis of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: focus on fluid and neurophysiological biomarkers

Gina Ferrazzano, Sebastiano Giuseppe Crisafulli, Viola Baione, Matteo Tartaglia, Antonio Cortese, Marco Frontoni, Marta Altieri, Flavia Pauri, Enrico Millefiorini, Antonella Conte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Most patients with multiple sclerosis presenting with a relapsing-remitting disease course at diagnosis transition to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) 1-2 decades after onset. SPMS is characterized by predominant neurodegeneration and atrophy. These pathogenic hallmarks result in unsatisfactory treatment response in SPMS patients. Therefore, early diagnosis of SPMS is necessary for prompt treatment decisions. The aim of this review was to assess neurophysiological and fluid biomarkers that have the potential to monitor disease progression and support early SPMS diagnosis.

METHODS: We performed a systematic review of studies that analyzed the role of neurophysiological techniques and fluid biomarkers in supporting SPMS diagnosis using the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses statement.

RESULTS: From our initial search, we selected 24 relevant articles on neurophysiological biomarkers and 55 articles on fluid biomarkers.

CONCLUSION: To date, no neurophysiological or fluid biomarker is sufficiently validated to support the early diagnosis of SPMS. Neurophysiological measurements, including short interval intracortical inhibition and somatosensory temporal discrimination threshold, and the neurofilament light chain fluid biomarker seem to be the most promising. Cross-sectional studies on an adequate number of patients followed by longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the diagnostic and prognostic value of these biomarkers. A combination of neurophysiological and fluid biomarkers may be more sensitive in detecting SPMS conversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3626-3645
JournalFront. Neurol.
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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