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Intrathecal immunoglobulin G (IgG) and oligoclonal bands (OCBs) are the most consistent and characteristic features of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). OCBs in MS are considered products of clonally expanded B cells in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), representing the sum of contributions from B cells in the brain. However, large amounts of IgG can be eluted from MS plaques in which lymphocytes are absent, and there is no correlation between levels of plaque-associated IgG and the presence of lymphocytes. It is calculated that it would take 3.2 billion lymphocytes to generate such large amounts of intrathecal IgG (30 mg in 500 ml CSF) in MS patients. Therefore, circulating lymphocytes in CSF could only account for <0.1% of the extra IgG in MS. We analyzed clinical laboratory parameters from sera and CSF of 115 patients including 91 patients with MS and 24 patients with other inflammatory central nervous system (CNS) disorders (IC). We investigated the relationship between oligoclonal bands, IgG antibodies, CSF cells, IgG Index, albumin, and total protein. MS patients have significantly elevated serum concentrations of IgG antibodies, albumin, and total protein, lower levels of lymphocytes, albumin, and total protein in the cerebrospinal fluid, but no difference in CSF IgG concentration compared to those with other inflammatory neurological disorders. Furthermore, in MS there was no linear relationship between the numbers of OCBs, CSF lymphocytes, CSF IgG, and IgG Index, and between serum IgG and serum albumin, but significant correlation between IgG in CSF and serum, and between CSF IgG and CSF albumin. There are unique differences between MS and patients with other inflammatory neurological disorders. Our data suggest that in MS patient (a) B cells and their products in the CSF may not be the sole source of intrathecal IgG; (b) oligoclonal bands may not be the products of single B cell clones in the CSF; and (c) there is a strong connection between serum components in the peripheral circulation and the central nervous system.


Cheryl Beseler, Timothy Vollmer, Michael Graner, Xiaoli Yu. The complex relationship between oligoclonal bands, lymphocytes in the cerebrospinal fluid, and immunoglobulin G antibodies in multiple sclerosis: Indication of serum contribution. PloS one. 2017;12(10):e0186842

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PMID: 29059249

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