Increased albumin quotient (QAlb) in patients after first clinical event suggestive of multiple sclerosis is associated with development of brain atrophy and greater disability 48 months later

Mult Scler. 2016 May;22(6):770-81. doi: 10.1177/1352458515601903. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Background: The utility of blood-brain barrier (BBB) biomarkers for clinical and magnetic resonance imaging progression in multiple sclerosis (MS) has not been extensively investigated.

Objectives: To determine whether cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures of BBB at clinical onset predict radiological and clinical deterioration over 48 months.

Methods: This longitudinal study included 182 patients after first clinical event suggestive of MS treated with weekly intramuscular interferon beta-1a. CSF and serum samples were analyzed for leukocytes, total protein, albumin, immunoglobulins, and oligoclonal bands. Optimal thresholds for the albumin quotient (QAlb) were determined. Mixed-effect model analyses, adjusted for age, gender, and treatment escalation, were used to analyze relationship between CSF measures and disease activity outcomes over 48 months of follow-up.

Results: Increased QAlb at clinical onset was associated with enlargement of lateral ventricles (p = .001) and greater whole brain (p = .003), white matter (p < .001), corpus callosum (p < .001), and thalamus (p = .003) volume loss over 48 months. Higher QAlb was associated with higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score over 48 months (p = .002).

Conclusions: Increased QAlb at clinical onset is associated with increased brain atrophy and greater disability in patients after first clinical event suggestive of MS.

Keywords: MRI; Multiple sclerosis; blood–brain barrier; brain atrophy; clinically isolated syndrome; disability.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albumins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Disease Progression*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Serum Albumin
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Young Adult


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers
  • Serum Albumin