Therapeutic efficacy of plasma exchange in NMO-IgG-positive patients with neuromyelitis optica

Mult Scler. 2007 Jan;13(1):128-32. doi: 10.1177/1352458506071174.


Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with a poor prognosis in terms of the optic-spinal function. Recently, a serum autoantibody (NMO-IgG) binding to the blood-brain barrier region was detected exclusively in patients with NMO and its high risk group. We treated six NMO-IgG-positive patients (all female; age 21-67 years old, median 41; three with optic neuritis and three with myelitis) who were unresponsive to high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone (HIMP), with plasma exchange (PE) (three to five exchanges, 2-3 L each). Three of the patients (one with optic neuritis and two with myelitis) showed definite functional improvement following PE. The clinical improvement started to appear after one or two exchanges, while there was little or no improvement in the other three patients. Such quick clinical responses to PE suggest a pathogenetic role of humoral immune factors in NMO, although delayed responses to the corticosteroid therapy might have contributed to the therapeutic efficacy, in part. Further clinical and in vitro studies are needed to determine whether the removal of NMO-IgG is directly relevant to the therapeutic efficacy. PE may hasten the functional recovery from corticosteroid-resistant relapses in some NMO-IgG-positive patients with NMO.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / immunology*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / therapy*
  • Plasma Exchange*
  • Recurrence
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Methylprednisolone