Surface TSPO in blood cells: Biomarker of peripheral and brain inflammation




Translocator Protein 18kDa (TSPO) is a nuclear encoded outer mitochondrial membrane protein that is ubiquitously expressed by most host cells. Initially, TSPO was a diazepam target, but it has also been referred to as an ‘orphan protein searching for a function’. Since the generation of these knockouts, TSPO has been determined essential in steroidogenesis as well as proliferation, apoptosis, reactive oxygen species generation, cell differentiation, immune modulation and tetrapyrrole biosynthesis. Although there has been this increase in knowledge of TSPO, there is a lack of evidence of the clear molecular function of TSPO. TSPO is currently used in autoradiography and immunohistochemical methods to allow for robust visualization and correlation of TSPO in glial cells and infiltrating monocytes in the brains of living humans who are experiencing inflammatory-mediated brain diseases making TSPO an extremely attractive biomarker of neuroinflammation and a potential druggable target. No previous studies have directly interrogated the connection between peripheral immune cell TSPO surface expression and neuroinflammation. These inventors are the first to describe TSPO expression in the peripheral immune cell populations and the correlation to neuroinflammation.




This invention is using TSPO as an immune-specific biomarker for inflammatory immune cell activation in the periphery. The inventors are able to detect TSPO through flow cytometry and determine that TSPO is detectable on several immune cell types on the cell surface. They have detected an increase in TSPO expression on the cell surface of monocytes using both LPS-treatment and blood from HIV+ patients. Therefore, these inventors have found a novel connection between TSPO expression and neuroinflammation in the periphery.



  • A novel blood-based biomarker of inflammation
  • More specific to detect neuroinflammation than C-reactive protein



  • Drug Discovery
  • Diagnostic Test







Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Anupam Jhingran
Technology Manager
Michigan State University