WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) may provide a noninvasive way to monitor neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with lupus, according to results from research in mice at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
"This study is the first to demonstrate that MRS is a feasible method to monitor neuropsychiatric symptoms in lupus," said Nilamadhab Mishra, M.D., the principal investigator, in a presentation at the American College of Rheumatology meeting in Washington.
MRS is closely related to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and uses strong magnetic fields and low energy radio waves to get biochemical information about the body. The test is done in an MRI machine to which a spectrometer has been attached to measure changes in metabolites, such as the levels of glutamate and glutamine.
"Because of its noninvasiveness and repeatable nature, MRS could be helpful in the drug discovery program for neuropsychiatric lupus," said Mishra, an assistant professor of rheumatology. He explained, "No definitive biomarker of neuropsychiatric lupus is available and this impedes both clinical diagnosis and drug discovery for treatment of this condition."
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), in neuropsychiatric lupus, there are a wide variety of associated neurological and psychiatric syndromes and cognitive problems.
NIAMS, which is supporting Mishra's work, said that about 20 percent of lupus patients have neuropsychiatric symptoms and it is one of the major causes of death among people with lupus. Systemic lupus affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, mostly women.
In his study, Mishra is using mice that have a defective gene and spontaneously develop lupus, including lymph node swelling and increased spleen size. He is comparing these animals with control animals that do not have lupus.