Prediction of neuromyelitis optica attack severity by quantitation of complement-mediated injury to aquaporin-4 -expressing cells

Shannon R. Hinson, Andrew McKeon, James P. Fryer, Metha Apiwattanakul, Vanda A. Lennon, Sean J. Pittock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Background: Recent reports support a pathogenic role in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) for the aquaporin-4 (AQP4) - specific autoantibody (NMO-IgG). Neuromyelitis optica is an inflammatory demyelinating central nervous system disease, usually relapsing, that causes variable degrees of attack-related disability. The NMO-IgG binds in vitro to the extracellular domain of AQP4, activates complement, and causes astrocyte lesioning. Objective: To compare the prognostic utility of NMO-IgG titer and quantitative measures of complement-mediated injury to AQP4-expressing cells in NMO attacks. Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective clinical-serological correlative study at Mayo Clinic's Neuroimmunology Laboratory was undertaken. Over an 18-month period, we identified NMO-IgG - seropositive patients in whom sufficient serum and adequate clinical information pertaining to NMO attacks (6 severe, 6 mild) were available to analyze clinical-serological correlations. Sera from 9 patients with multiple sclerosis and 9 healthy subjects (all NMO-IgG seronegative) served as controls. Complement activation was measured by quantifying the number of green fluorescent protein - AQP4 - transfected HEK 293 cells permeable to the viability dye propidium iodide after exposure to patient serum and active complement. Main Outcome Measures: Attack severity (mild or severe), percentage of AQP4-transfected cells lesioned, and NMO-IgG titer. Results: The median percentage of AQP4-transfected cells lesioned by complement in the presence of serum from patients with NMO was 14% for patients with mild attacks and 54% for patients with severe attacks (P = .005). Median complement activation values for sera from healthy subjects and patients with multiple sclerosis were 8% and 12%, respectively. Patients with mild NMO attacks and patients with severe NMO attacks did not differ significantly with respect to NMO-IgG titer (P = .089). Conclusions: A laboratory measure of complement-mediated cell injury may serve as a prognostic biomarker in NMO. Larger prospective studies are required to validate this observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1167
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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