NMO-IgG is a specific biomarker of neuromyelitis optica (NMO) that targets the aquaporin-4 (AQP4) water channel protein. The current gold standard for NMO-IgG identification is indirect immunofluorescence (IIF). Our aim in this study was to develop a new quantitative cell-based assay (CBA) and to propose a rational strategy for anti-AQP4 Ab identification and quantification. We observed an excellent correlation between the CBA and IIF for NMO-IgG/anti-AQP4 detection. The CBA appeared more sensitive than IIF but on the other hand, IIF allows the simultaneous detection of various auto-Abs, underlining the complementarity between both methods. In conclusion, we propose to use IIF for the screening of patients at diagnosis in order to identify auto-Abs targeting the central nervous system. A highly sensitive, AQP4 specific and quantitative assay such as our CBA could be used thereafter to specifically identify the target of the Ab and to monitor its serum concentration under treatment.
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