The concentrations of ferritin, transferrin and iron were measured in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of multiple sclerosis (MS) and control patients. Ferritin levels were significantly elevated in the CSF of chronic progressive active MS patients (4.71+/-0.54 ng/ml) compared to levels in normal individuals (3.07+/-0.17 ng/ml). MS patients with active or stable relapsing-remitting disease had ferritin levels that were comparable to those found in normal individuals. There were no significant differences in transferrin or iron levels in the CSF between MS and normal individuals. Both ferritin and transferrin levels were elevated in patients that had high CSF IgG values but not in patients with a high IgG index. Since ferritin binds iron, the increase of CSF ferritin levels in chronic progressive MS patients could be a defense mechanism to protect against iron induced oxidative injury. Ferritin levels could be a laboratory measure that helps to distinguish between chronic progressive and relapsing-remitting MS.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.