Background: The chemokines and cytokines CXCL13, CXCL12, CCL19, CCL21, BAFF and APRIL are believed to play a role in the recruitment of B cells to the central nervous system (CNS) compartment during neuroinflammation. To determine which chemokines/cytokines show the strongest association with a humoral immune response in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), we measured their concentrations in the CSF and correlated them with immune cell subsets and antibody levels.
Methods: Cytokine/chemokine concentrations were measured in CSF and serum by ELISA in patients with non-inflammatory neurological diseases (NIND, n = 20), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS, n = 30), multiple sclerosis (MS, n = 20), Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB, n = 8) and patients with other inflammatory neurological diseases (OIND, n = 30). Albumin, IgG, IgA and IgM were measured by nephelometry. CSF immune cell subsets were determined by seven-color flow cytometry.
Results: CXCL13 was significantly elevated in the CSF of all patient groups with inflammatory diseases. BAFF levels were significantly increased in patients with LNB and OIND. CXCL12 was significantly elevated in patients with LNB. B cells and plasmablasts were significantly elevated in the CSF of all patients with inflammatory diseases. CXCL13 showed the most consistent correlation with CSF B cells, plasmablasts and intrathecal Ig synthesis.
Conclusions: CXCL13 seems to be the major determinant for B cell recruitment to the CNS compartment in different neuroinflammatory diseases. Thus, elevated CSF CXCL13 levels rather reflect a strong humoral immune response in the CNS compartment than being specific for a particular disease entity.