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Disease Markers
Volume 27 (2009), Issue 2, Pages 63-73

Molecular Profiling of Glatiramer Acetate Early Treatment Effects in Multiple Sclerosis

Anat Achiron, Anna Feldman, and Michael Gurevich

Multiple Sclerosis Center, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Received 28 October 2009; Accepted 28 October 2009

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Glatiramer acetate (GA, Copaxone®) has beneficial effects on the clinical course of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). However, the exact molecular mechanisms of GA effects are only partially understood.

Objective: To characterized GA molecular effects in RRMS patients within 3 months of treatment by microarray profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).

Methods: Gene-expression profiles were determined in RRMS patients before and at 3 months after initiation of GA treatment using Affimetrix (U133A-2) microarrays containing 14,500 well-characterized human genes. Most informative genes (MIGs) of GA-induced biological convergent pathways operating in RRMS were constructed using gene functional annotation, enrichment analysis and pathway reconstruction bioinformatic softwares. Verification at the mRNA and protein level was performed by qRT-PCR and FACS.

Results: GA induced a specific gene expression molecular signature that included altered expression of 480 genes within 3 months of treatment; 262 genes were up-regulated, and 218 genes were down-regulated. The main convergent mechanisms of GA effects were related to antigen-activated apoptosis, inflammation, adhesion, and MHC class-I antigen presentation.

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that GA treatment induces alternations of immunomodulatory gene expression patterns that are important for suppression of disease activity already at three months of treatment and can be used as molecular markers of GA activity.