The contribution of cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal bands to the early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2009 Apr;15(4):472-8. doi: 10.1177/1352458508100502. Epub 2009 Jan 19.


Background: McDonald Criteria (MDC) have been validated in selected patients at high risk for multiple sclerosis (MS). However, possible overdiagnosis of MS can represent critical issues in less controlled clinical settings.

Objective: To assess the contribution of oligoclonal bands (OB) to MS diagnosis in current clinical practice.

Methods: We included all the patients admitted to our Department since 2001 who had undergone diagnostic workup for a possible MS diagnosis, followed up for at least 1 year. We assessed the accuracy of MDC, OB, and two MDC definitions of dissemination in space (DIS-MRI: fulfillment of MRI criteria, DIS-OB: two MRI lesions+OB).

Results: We included 118 patients (median follow-up 4.0 years). Twenty-eight cases received an alternative diagnosis, whereas none of these presented OB, 43% fulfilled the DIS-MRI criteria. OB were present in 70% of the remaining 90 patients. By the end of the follow-up, 56% of the diagnoses had converted to clinically definite MS and OB showed higher accuracy than DIS-MRI fulfillment (70% vs 58%). Moreover, after 1 year and at the end of the follow-up, DIS-OB yielded a higher Specificity level in comparison with DIS-MRI.

Conclusion: OB can improve overall diagnostic Accuracy by increasing Specificity and negative predictive value.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests / standards*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Oligoclonal Bands / immunology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult


  • Oligoclonal Bands