Secreted phosphoprotein 1 emerges as a promising biomarker for identifying rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease in anti-MDA5-positive dermatomyositis patients

Anti-MDA5 antibody-positive dermatomyositis (MDA5+ DM), a specific subset within the spectrum of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM), demonstrates a significant association with rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease (RP-ILD). A recent study published in the Arthritis Research & Therapy elucidates the pivotal role of plasma secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1) as an emerging prognostic biomarker for MDA5+ DM, providing potential insights into the early detection and management of this complex condition.

Dr. Qiu and colleagues, a team of Chinese researchers, collected plasma samples from 20 individuals diagnosed with MDA5+ DM and 10 healthy controls (HC). Employing advanced liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis, they conducted proteomic profiling. Subsequently, the proteins of interest underwent validation in distinct samples: 20 HC, 20 MDA5+ DM with RP-ILD, and 20 non-RP-ILD patients, utilizing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

A total of 413 differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) emerged between MDA5+ DM patients and HC. Moreover, in the comparison of DEPs between RP-ILD and non-RP-ILD patients, 79 proteins exhibited alterations in RP-ILD patients, suggesting involvement in acute inflammatory responses, coagulation, and complement cascades. The team meticulously confirmed 6 candidate biomarkers through ELISA. Notably, concentrations of SPP1, serum amyloid A1 (SAA1), and kininogen 1 (KNG1) were significantly higher in RP-ILD patients compared to non-RP-ILD patients and HC. Within various clinical subgroups, SPP1 exhibited particularly elevated levels in the high-risk RP-ILD subgroup of MDA5+ DM.

SPP1, also recognized as osteopontin and early T lymphocyte activation 1, stands out as a secreted extracellular matrix protein with abundant presence in cells of both mesodermal and endodermal origin. Upon binding to its receptors, CD44 or various integrins, SPP1 sets off cell-specific signaling cascades, activating a diverse array of cellular functions. These functions include tissue remodeling, triggering extracellular matrix proteins to induce cell migration or attachment, regulation of cell-mediated immunity, and modulation of cytokine synthesis.

The challenges posed by MDA5+ DM with RP-ILD persist, demonstrating resistance to conventional treatments and maintaining a staggering mortality rate of 50-70%, even with aggressive interventions. Recognizing the urgency in addressing this critical issue, early identification of high-risk RP-ILD patients emerges as a pivotal component for improving prognosis. The current study not only explores the intricate pathogenesis of RP-ILD development in MDA5+ DM but also introduces novel insights.

The focus on SPP1 as both a groundbreaking prognostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target for MDA5+ DM adds a promising dimension to the pursuit of more effective management strategies. By uncovering these critical aspects, this research paves the way for enhanced early intervention and treatment approaches, offering hope for improved outcomes in this challenging medical landscape.


Qiu Y, Feng X, Liu C, Shi Y, Xu L, You H, et al. Proteomic profiling identifies SPP1 associated with rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease in anti-MDA5-positive dermatomyositis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2024 Jan 2;26(1):9.