Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 17;21(22):E8680. doi: 10.3390/ijms21228680.
Sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (sALS) is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting upper and lower motor neurons. Biomarkers are useful to facilitate the diagnosis and/or prognosis of patients and to reveal possible mechanistic clues about the disease. This study aimed to identify and validate selected putative biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of sALS patients at early disease stages compared with age-matched controls and with other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer disease (AD), spinal muscular atrophy type III (SMA), frontotemporal dementia behavioral variant (FTD), and multiple sclerosis (MS). SWATH acquisition on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for protein quantitation, and ELISA for validation, were used in CSF samples of sALS cases at early stages of the disease. Analysis of mRNA and protein expression was carried out in the anterior horn of the lumbar spinal cord in post-mortem tissue of sALS cases (terminal stage) and controls using RTq-PCR, and Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, respectively. SWATH acquisition on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) revealed 51 differentially expressed proteins in the CSF in sALS. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves showed CXCL12 to be the most valuable candidate biomarker. We validated the values of CXCL12 in CSF with ELISA in two different cohorts. Besides sALS, increased CXCL12 levels were found in MS but were not altered in AD, SMA, and FTD. Therefore, increased CXCL12 levels in the CSF can be useful in the diagnoses of MS and sALS in the context of the clinical settings. CXCL12 immunoreactivity was localized in motor neurons in control and sALS, and in a few glial cells in sALS at the terminal stage; CXCR4 was in a subset of oligodendroglial-like cells and axonal ballooning of motor neurons in sALS; and CXCR7 in motor neurons in control and sALS, and reactive astrocytes in the pyramidal tracts in terminal sALS. CXCL12/CXCR4/CXCR7 axis in the spinal cord probably plays a complex role in inflammation, oligodendroglial and astrocyte signaling, and neuronal and axonal preservation in sALS.