Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the CNS and myelin-derived glycolipids are one of the targets of this autoimmune attack. In this study, we examined for the first time the plasma distribution of sulfatide isoforms. Sulfatides with long-chain (C24 : 0 or C24 : 1) and short-chain (C16 : 0 or C18 : 0) fatty acids were quantified in plasma of relapsing–remitting MS patients by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. We found that C18 : 0 and C24 : 1 sulfatide plasma levels positively correlated with the Expanded Disability Status Scale. C16/C18 : 0 and C16/C24 : 0 ratios also correlated with the age and the time since last relapse. Healthy women showed higher levels of C16 : 0 sulfatide than healthy men; however, this gender difference disappeared in MS patients. Our data underline the potential use of sulfatides as biomarkers in relapsing–remitting MS and points to a possible association with the higher susceptibility of women to develop MS.
Sulfatides are glycolipids highly enriched in myelin that have been associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we have found a positive correlation between levels of specific sulfatides in plasma and increased disability in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. These findings underline the potential use of these molecules as biomarkers for MS.