Peripheral levels of caspase-1 mRNA correlate with disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis; A preliminary study

R. Furlan, M. Filippi, A. Bergami, M. A. Rocca, V. Martinelli, P. L. Poliani, L. M E Grimaldi, G. Desina, G. Comi, G. Martino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cysteine protease caspase-1 plays a crucial part in the inflammatory process due to its ability to proteolitically activate proinflammatory cytokine precursors, such as interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the CNS in which the pathogenic process is mainly orchestrated by proinflammatory cytokines. The role of caspase-1 in multiple sclerosis was evaluated by measuring its mRNA levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from seven patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis every 15 days over a 1 year period. The recorded levels were compared with clinical and MRI evidence of disease activity. Brain MRI was performed monthly in each patient. Caspase-1 mRNA levels were significantly increased in PBMCs from patients with multiple sclerosis compared with healthy controls (p <0.001). In patients with multiple sclerosis, a twofold to threefold increase of caspase-1 mRNA mean level was found in the week preceding an acute attack (p <0.05). The magnitude of caspase-1 mRNA increase correlated with the number of new (p = 0.01) but not persisting gadolinium enhancing brain MRI lesions. In conclusion, caspase-1 might be involved in the immune mediated process underlying CNS inflammation and might represent a suitable peripheral immunological marker of disease activity in multiple sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-788
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Caspase-1
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Proinflammatory cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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