Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Membrane Fluidity and Disease Outcome in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

  • Gloudina M. Hon
  • Mogamat S. Hassan
  • Susan J. van Rensburg
  • Stefan Abel
  • Rajiv T. Erasmus
  • Tandi Matsha
Original Article


Immune cell membrane lipids are important determinants of membrane fluidity, eicosanoid production and phagocytosis and fatty acid metabolic abnormalities have been reported in immune cells from patients with multiple sclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between peripheral blood mononuclear cell membrane fluidity, permeability status, and disease outcome as measured by the Kurtzke expanded disability status scale. Phospholipids, fatty acids and cholesterol composition in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 26 patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and 25 healthy control subjects were determined by colorimetric assay, gas chromatography and enzymatic assays, respectively. Membrane fluidity was calculated according to previously established formulae and correlated with C-reactive protein and the Kurtzke expanded disability status scale. There were no significant differences in membrane lipids in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients and controls. However, correlation studies showed lipid metabolic abnormalities, which were reflected in significant correlations between membrane fluidity as measured by both its fatty acid and phospholipid compositions, and the functional system scores. C-reactive protein showed positive correlations with phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylinositol and total phospholipids in membranes from control subjects. Metabolic abnormalities, as well as correlations between membrane fluidity and the functional system scores, suggested the involvement of these immune cell membranes in the disease progression. Furthermore, the changed relationship between membrane phospholipids and C-reactive protein, which has been shown to correlate with infectious episodes and clinical relapse, could be an indication of immune cell dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis.


Multiple sclerosis Fatty acids Phospholipids Membrane fluidity 



C-reactive protein


Kurtzke expanded disability status scale


Multiple sclerosis


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells










Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Saturated fatty acid





We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the following: The MS Society, Western Cape Branch, South Africa and sister Treska Botha for the recruitment of patients, Johanna van Wyk for technical support in the analysis of fatty acids, Dr Marius de Klerk for the measurement of the EDSS and FSS.

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Indian Society of Haematology & Transfusion Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gloudina M. Hon
    • 1
  • Mogamat S. Hassan
    • 1
  • Susan J. van Rensburg
    • 2
  • Stefan Abel
    • 3
  • Rajiv T. Erasmus
    • 4
  • Tandi Matsha
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness ScienceCape Peninsula University of TechnologyBellville, Cape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.National Health Laboratory ServicesTygerberg HospitalTygerbergSouth Africa
  3. 3.PROMEC Unit and NIRUSouth African Medical Research CouncilTygerbergSouth Africa
  4. 4.Division of Chemical PathologyUniversity of StellenboschTygerbergSouth Africa
  5. 5.Biomedical Technology, Faculty of Health and Wellness ScienceCape Peninsula University of TechnologyBellville, Cape TownSouth Africa

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