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OBJECTIVE: To assess whether serial serum levels of soluble forms of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) are useful as surrogate markers of disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS). BACKGROUND: Increased levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 have been described in cross-sectional, but not longitudinal, studies of patients with MS. Although they appear to correlate with clinical and MRI markers of disease activity, their role as potential surrogate markers remains undefined. METHODS: Serial serum levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 were measured in patients with MS undergoing monthly gadolinium-enhanced MRI studies of the brain (462 gadolinium-enhanced MRI in 57 patients) and in 12 normal control subjects. Ten patients had primary progressive (PP), 22 relapsing remitting (RR), and 25 secondary progressive (SP) disease. RESULTS: Levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 were increased intermittently in patients with all subtypes of MS. Median levels of sICAM-1 were elevated in patients with MS compared with normal controls (normal controls median [interquartile range] = 176[119-209] compared with PP = 502[194-1768], RR = 419[158-481], and SP = 352[196-469] ng/mL; p = 0.04). After excluding patients with PP MS, patients with high sICAM-1 levels had a greater number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions per study (1.9[0.9-4.3]) than patients with normal levels (0.4[0-2.7], p = 0.03), and patients with MRI studies with no gadolinium-enhancing lesions had lower associated sICAM-1 levels (200 ng/mL[85-561]) than patients with only persistent (349 ng/mL[82-615]) or new enhancing lesions (497 ng/mL[108-667], p = 0.03). Patients with RR or SP disease that progressed clinically during the study had a greater number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions per MRI study (3.5[0.4-5.5]) than did patients in whom disease did not progress (1.2 [0.3-2.7], p = 0.03). The patients with progressive disease tended to have higher sICAM-1 levels (469 ng/mL [196-1019]) than patients in whom disease did not progress (353 ng/mL [171-469], p = 0.07). Although MS patients tended to have higher sVCAM-1 levels than did normal controls, this finding was not significant. No correlation could be found between levels of sVCAM-1 and gadolinium enhancement on MRI. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with MS have elevated levels of sICAM-1, which correlate with gadolinium enhancement on MRI and possibly short-term disease progression. Soluble ICAM-1, and not sVCAM-1, may therefore be suitable as a long-term surrogate marker of disease activity in MS.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1557 - 1565


Adult, Biomarkers, Disease Progression, Female, Gadolinium, Humans, Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1, Longitudinal Studies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis, Sex Factors, Solubility, Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1