Molecular biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid of multiple sclerosis patients

Autoimmun Rev. 2015 Oct;14(10):903-13. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2015.06.001. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic immune-mediated disease of the central nervous system, usually occurring in young adults and leading to disability. Despite the progress in technology and intensive research work of the last years, diagnosing MS can still be challenging. A heterogenic and complex pathophysiology with various types of disease courses makes MS unique for each patient. There is an urgent need to identify markers facilitating rapid and accurate diagnosis and prognostic assessments with regard to optimal therapy for each MS patient. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is an outstanding source of specific markers related to MS pathology. Molecules reflecting specific pathological processes, such as inflammation, cellular damage, and loss of blood-brain-barrier integrity, are detectable in CSF. Clinically used biomarkers of CSF are oligoclonal bands, IgG-index, measles-rubella-zoster-reaction, anti-aquaporin 4 antibodies, and antibodies against John Cunningham virus. Many other potential biomarkers have been proposed in recent years. In this review we examine the current scientific knowledge on CSF molecular markers that could guide diagnosis and discrimination of different MS forms, support treatment decisions, or be helpful in monitoring and predicting disease progression, therapy response, and complications such as opportunistic infections.

Keywords: Cerebrospinal fluid; Diagnosis; Molecular biomarker; Monitoring; Multiple sclerosis; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Prognosis


  • Antibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines