An Update on Laboratory-Based Diagnostic Biomarkers for Multiple Sclerosis and Beyond

Ruba S. Saadeh, Paola A. Ramos, Alicia Algeciras-Schimnich, Eoin P. Flanagan, Sean J. Pittock, Maria Alice Willrich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory demyelinating disease in which analysis of clinical presentation, imaging studies, and laboratory tests aid in diagnosis. CONTENT: This review discusses laboratory tests ordered to rule out and rule in MS, such as the traditional measurement of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) IgG index and oligoclonal bands. Biomarkers discovered in the past 2 decades, such as aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibodies and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) antibodies, have been incorporated into clinical practice in the diagnosis of disorders referred to as MS mimics. The importance of test selection, assay methodology, optimal sample for testing, and diagnostic utility of these biomarkers is reviewed. Other laboratory testing that can aid in the differentiation between MS and these biomarker-defined CNS demyelinating diseases is described. There is a focus on emerging biomarkers such as the use of kappa immunoglobulin free light chain concentration in CSF and kappa CSF index measurement as an alternative to oligoclonal bands which has a potential for an improvement in laboratory workflows. Finally, the role of biomarkers of disease activity and prognosis are discussed, including neurofilament light chain, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and myelin basic protein. Future perspectives with improved laboratory testing tools and discovery of additional biomarkers are provided. SUMMARY: Laboratory testing for demyelinating disorders using CSF and serum are routine practices that can benefit from an update, as novel biomarker-defined entities have reduced the potential for MS misdiagnosis, and CSF/serum biomarkers reinstated in the diagnostic criteria of MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1134-1150
Number of pages17
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • CSF total protein
  • IgG index
  • Kappa free light chains
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders
  • oligoclonal bands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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