Chitinase 3-like 1: prognostic biomarker in clinically isolated syndromes

Brain. 2015 Apr;138(Pt 4):918-31. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv017. Epub 2015 Feb 13.


Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) has been proposed as a biomarker associated with the conversion to clinically definite multiple sclerosis in patients with clinically isolated syndromes, based on the finding of increased cerebrospinal fluid CHI3L1 levels in clinically isolated syndrome patients who later converted to multiple sclerosis compared to those who remained as clinically isolated syndrome. Here, we aimed to validate CHI3L1 as a prognostic biomarker in a large cohort of patients with clinically isolated syndrome. This is a longitudinal cohort study of clinically isolated syndrome patients with clinical, magnetic resonance imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid data prospectively acquired. A total of 813 cerebrospinal fluid samples from patients with clinically isolated syndrome were recruited from 15 European multiple sclerosis centres. Cerebrospinal fluid CHI3L1 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to investigate the association between cerebrospinal fluid CHI3L1 levels and time to conversion to multiple sclerosis and time to reach Expanded Disability Status Scale 3.0. CHI3L1 levels were higher in patients who converted to clinically definite multiple sclerosis compared to patients who continued as clinically isolated syndrome (P = 8.1 × 10(-11)). In the Cox regression analysis, CHI3L1 levels were a risk factor for conversion to multiple sclerosis (hazard ratio = 1.7; P = 1.1 × 10(-5) using Poser criteria; hazard ratio = 1.6; P = 3.7 × 10(-6) for McDonald criteria) independent of other covariates such as brain magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities and presence of cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal bands, and were the only significant independent risk factor associated with the development of disability (hazard ratio = 3.8; P = 2.5 × 10(-8)). High CHI3L1 levels were associated with shorter time to multiple sclerosis (P = 3.2 × 10(-9) using Poser criteria; P = 5.6 × 10(-11) for McDonald criteria) and more rapid development of disability (P = 1.8 × 10(-10)). These findings validate cerebrospinal fluid CHI3L1 as a biomarker associated with the conversion to multiple sclerosis and development of disability and reinforce the prognostic role of CHI3L1 in patients with clinically isolated syndrome. We propose that determining cerebrospinal fluid chitinase 3-like 1 levels at the time of a clinically isolated syndrome event will help identify those patients with worse disease prognosis.

Keywords: biomarker; clinically isolated syndrome; disability progression; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / biosynthesis
  • Adipokines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Demyelinating Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lectins / biosynthesis
  • Lectins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Young Adult


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Lectins