Markedly increased CSF interleukin-6 levels in neuromyelitis optica, but not in multiple sclerosis

J Neurol. 2009 Dec;256(12):2082-4. doi: 10.1007/s00415-009-5274-4.


To investigate differences in helper T cell immune responses in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) between neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS), we measured CSF levels of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-a and interferon-c at the time of relapse in 17 NMO patients and 21 MS patients using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. CSF IL-6 levels were significantly higher in NMO patients than in patients with MS (P = 0.001) and other neurological diseases (P = 0.001). The other cytokines tested were undetectable. Elevated CSF levels of IL-6 in only NMO supports the view of different pathophysiologies of NMO and MS. CSF IL-6 levels may be useful in the differential diagnosis of the two disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / diagnosis
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • Up-Regulation / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6