Background: In multiple sclerosis (MS), clinical assessment, MRI and cerebrospinal fluid are important in the diagnostic process. However, no blood biomarker has been confirmed as a useful tool in the diagnostic work-up.

Objectives: Blood platelets contain a rich spliced mRNA repertoire that can alter during megakaryocyte development but also during platelet formation and platelet circulation. In this proof of concept study, we evaluate the diagnostic potential of spliced blood platelet RNA for the detection of MS.

Methods: We isolated and sequenced platelet RNA of blood samples obtained from 57 MS patients and 66 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HCs). 60% was used to develop a particle swarm-optimized (PSO) support vector machine classification algorithm. The remaining 40% served as an independent validation series.

Results: In total, 1249 RNAs with differential spliced junction expression levels were identified between platelets of MS patients as compared to HCs, including EPSTI1, IFI6, and RPS6KA3, in line with reported inflammatory signatures in the blood of MS patients. The RNAs were subsequently used as input for a MS classifier, capable of detecting MS with 80% accuracy in the independent validation series.

Conclusions: Spliced platelet RNA may enable the blood-based diagnosis of MS, warranting large-scale validation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055217320946784
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal - Experimental, Translational and Clinical
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • RNA
  • biomarker
  • diagnostics
  • platelets

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