Background: Levels of CXCL13, a potent B-cell chemoattractant, are elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during multiple sclerosis (MS) and are associated with markers of MS activity. Levels decrease upon effective treatments.
Objective: Here we validate the potential role of CSF CXCL13 as a biomarker for aspects of MS in a large amount of clinical material, the majority collected at early diagnostic work-up.
Methods: CXCL13 was measured by ELISA in 837 subjects: relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS; n=323), secondary progressive MS (SPMS; n=40), primary progressive MS (PPMS; n=24), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS; n=79), other neurological diseases (ONDs; n=181), ONDs with signs of inflammation or viral/bacterial infections (iONDs; n=176) and healthy controls (n=14).
Results: Subjects with viral/bacterial infections had extremely high CXCL13 levels compared to all included groups (p<0.0001). CXCL13 was otherwise significantly higher in MS compared to the remaining controls (p<0.0001), and CIS (p<0.01). A significant and positive correlation between CXCL13 and relapse rate, the results obtained for the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and the number of lesions detected by MRI was demonstrated. CXCL13 was increased in CIS conversion to clinically definite MS (p<0.001). Oligoclonal immunoglobulin band (OCB)-positive CIS or MS had significantly increased CXCL13 levels compared to OCB-negative CIS or MS (p<0.001 and p<0.0001, respectively).
Conclusion: CXCL13 was associated with disease exacerbations and unfavourable prognosis in RRMS. Increased CXCL13 was not specific for MS since subjects with viral/bacterial infections exhibited even higher levels. High levels predicted CIS conversion to MS. We suggest that measurement of CSF CXCL13 can be part of the armamentarium in the diagnostic and prognostic work-up in MS and be of help in future treatment decisions.