Biomarkers in Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells: The State of the Art in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the progressive loss of lower motor neurons, weakness and muscle atrophy. ALS lacks an effective cure and diagnosis is often made by exclusion. Thus, it is imperative to search for biomarkers. Biomarkers can help in understanding ALS pathomechanisms, identification of targets for treatment and development of effective therapies. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) represent a valid source for biomarkers compared to cerebrospinal fluid, as they are simple to collect, and to plasma, because of the possibility of detecting lower expressed proteins. They are a reliable model for patients' stratification. This review provides an overview on PBMCs as a potential source of biomarkers in ALS. We focused on altered RNA metabolism (coding/non-coding RNA), including RNA processing, mRNA stabilization, transport and translation regulation. We addressed protein abnormalities (aggregation, misfolding and modifications); specifically, we highlighted that SOD1 appears to be the most characterizing protein in ALS. Finally, we emphasized the correlation between biological parameters and disease phenotypes, as regards prognosis, severity and clinical features. In conclusion, even though further studies are needed to standardize the use of PBMCs as a tool for biomarker investigation, they represent a promising approach in ALS research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 25 2022


  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/diagnosis
  • Biomarkers/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism
  • Motor Neurons/metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases/metabolism


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