Body fluid biomarkers for multiple sclerosis--the long road to clinical application

Nat Rev Neurol. 2015 Oct;11(10):585-96. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2015.173. Epub 2015 Sep 22.


There is a strong unmet clinical need for objective body fluid biomarkers to assist early diagnosis and estimate long-term prognosis, monitor treatment response and predict potential adverse effects in multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we review recent studies (focusing on 2012 to early 2015) on body fluid markers in MS from the perspective of their clinical utility. Because the first step towards clinical implementation of a newly discovered biomarker is independent replication, we focus on biomarkers that have been validated in at least two independent cohorts. We also discuss recent data challenging earlier findings, and biomarkers for which new clinical uses are suggested. For early MS diagnosis and prediction of conversion from clinically isolated syndrome to MS, several new B-cell-associated candidate blood biomarkers have emerged. For prognosis, several novel axonal damage markers should be adopted to biomarker panels. The number of disease-modifying treatments for MS has increased sharply, but biomarkers for treatment response monitoring and adverse effect prediction are scarce, and markers for subtyping and staging of MS are still lacking. In view of the availability and implementation of several standardized protocols to optimize biomarker studies, we expect biomarker development for MS to be improved and accelerated, with clinical implementation in the near future.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Fluids / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers