Chitinases and chitinase-like proteins as biomarkers in neurologic disorders

Chitinases are hydrolytic enzymes widely distributed in nature. Despite their physiologic and pathophysiologic roles are not well understood, chitinases are emerging as biomarkers in a broad range of neurologic disorders, where in many cases, protein levels measured in the CSF have been shown to correlate with disease activity and progression. In this review, we will summarize the structural features of human chitinases and chitinase-like proteins and their potential physiologic and pathologic functions in the CNS. We will also review existing evidence for the role of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in inflammatory, neurodegenerative diseases, and psychiatric disorders. Finally, we will comment on future perspectives of chitinase studies in neurologic conditions.

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