Inflammation-related plasma and CSF biomarkers for multiple sclerosis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jun 9;117(23):12952-12960. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1912839117. Epub 2020 May 26.


Effective biomarkers for multiple sclerosis diagnosis, assessment of prognosis, and treatment responses, in particular those measurable in blood, are largely lacking. We have investigated a broad set of protein biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma using a highly sensitive proteomic immunoassay. Cases from two independent cohorts were compared with healthy controls and patients with other neurological diseases. We identified and replicated 10 cerebrospinal fluid proteins including IL-12B, CD5, MIP-1a, and CXCL9 which had a combined diagnostic efficacy similar to immunoglobulin G (IgG) index and neurofilament light chain (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.95). Two plasma proteins, OSM and HGF, were also associated with multiple sclerosis in comparison to healthy controls. Sensitivity and specificity of combined CSF and plasma markers for multiple sclerosis were 85.7% and 73.5%, respectively. In the discovery cohort, eotaxin-1 (CCL11) was associated with disease duration particularly in patients who had secondary progressive disease (PCSF < 4 × 10-5, Pplasma < 4 × 10-5), and plasma CCL20 was associated with disease severity (P = 4 × 10-5), although both require further validation. Treatment with natalizumab and fingolimod showed different compartmental changes in protein levels of CSF and peripheral blood, respectively, including many disease-associated markers (e.g., IL12B, CD5) showing potential application for both diagnosing disease and monitoring treatment efficacy. We report a number of multiple sclerosis biomarkers in CSF and plasma for early disease detection and potential indicators for disease activity. Of particular importance is the set of markers discovered in blood, where validated biomarkers are lacking.

Keywords: biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; multiple sclerosis; proteomics; proximity extension assay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokine CCL11 / analysis*
  • Chemokine CCL11 / immunology
  • Chemokine CCL20 / blood*
  • Chemokine CCL20 / immunology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Prognosis
  • Proteomics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • CCL11 protein, human
  • CCL20 protein, human
  • Chemokine CCL11
  • Chemokine CCL20