The side chain oxidized oxysterol 24S-hydroxy-cholesterol (24-OH-chol) is formed almost exclusively in the brain, and there is a continuous passage of this oxysterol through the circulation to the liver. 27-Hydroxycholesterol (27-OH-chol) is produced in most organs and is also taken up by the liver. The 27-OH-chol-24-OH-chol ratio is about 0.1 in the brain and about 2 in the circulation. This ratio was found to be about 0.4 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of asymptomatic patients, consistent with a major contribution from the circulation in the case of 27-OH-chol. In accordance with this, we demonstrated a significant flux of deuterium labeled 27-OH-chol from plasma to the CSF in a healthy volunteer. Patients with a defective blood-brain barrier were found to have markedly increased absolute levels (up to 10-fold) of both 27-OH-chol and 24-OH-chol in CSF, with a ratio between the two sterols reaching up to 2. There was a significant positive correlation between the levels of both oxysterols in CSF and the albuminCSF-albuminplasma ratio. The 27-OH-cholCSF24-OH-cholCSF ratio was found to be about normal in patients with active multiple sclerosis and significantly increased in patients with meningitis, polyneuropathy, or hemorrhages. Results are discussed in relation to the possible use of 24-OH-cholCSF as a surrogate marker of central nervous system demyelination and/or neuronal death.
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