Giovanna Morello, Valentina La Cognata, Maria Guarnaccia, Vincenzo La Bella, Francesca Luisa Conforti, Sebastiano Cavallaro

A Diagnostic Gene-Expression Signature in Fibroblasts of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

  • General Medicine

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disease with limited treatment options. Diagnosis can be difficult due to the heterogeneity and non-specific nature of the initial symptoms, resulting in delays that compromise prompt access to effective therapeutic strategies. Transcriptome profiling of patient-derived peripheral cells represents a valuable benchmark in overcoming such challenges, providing the opportunity to identify molecular diagnostic signatures. In this study, we characterized transcriptome changes in skin fibroblasts of sporadic ALS patients (sALS) and controls and evaluated their utility as a molecular classifier for ALS diagnosis. Our analysis identified 277 differentially expressed transcripts predominantly involved in transcriptional regulation, synaptic transmission, and the inflammatory response. A support vector machine classifier based on this 277-gene signature was developed to discriminate patients with sALS from controls, showing significant predictive power in both the discovery dataset and in six independent publicly available gene expression datasets obtained from different sALS tissue/cell samples. Taken together, our findings support the utility of transcriptional signatures in peripheral cells as valuable biomarkers for the diagnosis of ALS.

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