Multiple Sclerosis Atlas: A Molecular Map of Brain Lesion Stages in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Tobias Frisch, Maria L Elkjaer, Richard Reynolds, Tanja Maria Michel, Tim Kacprowski, Mark Burton, Torben A Kruse, Mads Thomassen, Jan Baumbach, Zsolt Illes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Introduction: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system with an untreatable late progressive phase. Molecular maps of different stages of brain lesion evolution in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (PMS) are missing but critical for understanding disease development and to identify novel targets to halt progression. Materials and Methods: The MS Atlas database comprises comprehensive high-quality transcriptomic profiles of 98 white matter (WM) brain samples of different lesion types (normal-appearing WM [NAWM], active, chronic active, inactive, remyelinating) from ten progressive MS patients and 25 WM areas from five non-neurological diseased cases. Results: We introduce the first MS brain lesion atlas (, developed to address the current challenges of understanding mechanisms driving the fate on a lesion basis. The MS Atlas gives means for testing research hypotheses, validating biomarkers and drug targets. It comes with a user-friendly web interface, and it fosters bioinformatic methods for de novo network enrichment to extract mechanistic markers for specific lesion types and pathway-based lesion type comparison. We describe examples of how the MS Atlas can be used to extract systems medicine signatures and demonstrate the interface of MS Atlas. Conclusion: This compendium of mechanistic PMS WM lesion profiles is an invaluable resource to fuel future MS research and a new basis for treatment development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNetwork and Systems Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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