Cerebrospinal fluid IL-21 levels in Neuromyelitis Optica and multiple sclerosis

Can J Neurol Sci. 2012 Nov;39(6):813-20. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100015663.


Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are inflammatory demyelinating diseases of human central nervous system (CNS) with complex pathogenesis. IL-21/IL-21R regulates activation, proliferation and survival of both T cells and B cells, which are involved in the pathogenesis of NMO and MS. High levels of serum IL-21 were observed in NMO patients. However, concentration of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) IL-21 in MS and NMO patients still remain unknown.

Object: To detect the CSF concentration of IL-21 in NMO and MS patients and to evaluate its relationship with disease activity, particularly concerned about its impact on humoral immunity.

Methods: CSF IL-21 was detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in NMO patients (n=21), MS patients (n=20) and controls (n=16).

Results: CSF concentration of the IL-21 was noticeably elevated in NMO (p=0.012) and borderline significantly increased in MS (p=0.115). In addition, this occurrence was associated with humoral immune activity as shown by a correlation between IL-21 and complement in NMO cohort (p=0.023) and high IL-21 levels in autoantibody-positive subgroup (p=0.027).

Conclusions: The concentration of CSF IL-21 was noticeably elevated and might have a positive correlation with humoral immune activity in NMO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Antigens, Nuclear / blood
  • Child
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Interleukins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / blood
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / diagnosis
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukins
  • Complement System Proteins
  • interleukin-21