Background: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by neurons and glia reach the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Studying the proteome of CSF-derived EVs offers a novel perspective on the key intracellular processes associated with the pathogenesis of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and a potential source from which to develop biomarkers. Methods: CSF EVs were extracted using ultrafiltration liquid chromatography from ALS patients and controls. EV size distribution and concentration was measured using nanoparticle tracking analysis and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry proteomic analysis performed. Results: CSF EV concentration and size distribution did not differ between ALS and control groups, nor between a sub-group of ALS patients with or without an associated hexanucleotide repeat expansion (HRE) in C9orf72. Univariate proteomic analysis identified downregulation of the pentameric proteasome-like protein Bleomycin hydrolase in ALS patients, whilst Gene Ontology enrichment analysis demonstrated downregulation of proteasome core complex proteins (8/8 proteins, normalized enrichment ratio -1.77, FDR-adjusted p = 0.057) in the ALS group. The sub-group of ALS patients associated with the C9orf72 HRE showed upregulation in Ubiquitin-like modifying-activating protein 1 (UBA1) compared to non-C9orf72 cases. Conclusions: Proteomic analysis of CSF EVs in ALS detects intracellular alterations in protein homeostatic mechanisms, previously only identified in pathological tissues. This supports the wider use of CSF EVs as a source of novel biomarkers reflecting key and potentially druggable pathological intracellular pathway alterations in ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Biomarker, CSF, Exosome, Extracellular vesicle