J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 80:575-577 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2008.150698
  • Short report

Marked increase in cerebrospinal fluid glial fibrillar acidic protein in neuromyelitis optica: an astrocytic damage marker

  1. T Misu1,2,
  2. R Takano1,
  3. K Fujihara1,2,
  4. T Takahashi3,
  5. S Sato4,
  6. Y Itoyama1
  1. 1
    Department of Neurology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan
  2. 2
    Department of Multiple Sclerosis Therapeutics, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan
  3. 3
    Department of Neurology, Yonezawa National Hospital, Yonezawa, Japan
  4. 4
    Department of Neurology, Kohnan Hospital, Sendai, Japan
  1. Dr T Misu, Department of Neurology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-1 Seiryomachi, Aobaku, Sendai 980-8574, Japan; misu{at}
  • Received 30 March 2008
  • Revised 10 June 2008
  • Accepted 7 July 2008


Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a neurological inflammatory disease associated with autoimmunity to aquaporin 4, predominantly localised in astrocytic foot processes. Recent studies have revealed that loss of aquaporin 4 and glial fibrillar acidic protein (GFAP) is a prominent feature of NMO lesions, suggesting astrocytic impairment.

Objective: To reveal a useful clinical biomarker of NMO.

Methods: Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were carried out for astrocytic markers GFAP and S100B in CSFs, obtained from the patients with NMO (n = 10) and multiple sclerosis (MS) (n = 10) manifesting acute myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) (n = 3), spinal infarction (n = 3), and other neurological diseases (OND) (n = 5).

Results: The CSF-GFAP levels during relapse in NMO (7666.0 (SD 15 266.5) ng/ml) were significantly over several thousand times higher than those in MS (0.7 (1.5)) or OND (0.6 (0.3)), and considerably higher than those in spinal infarction (354.7 (459.0)) and ADEM (0.4 (0.2)). They returned close to normal levels along with clinical improvement soon after corticosteroid therapy in NMO. There were strong correlations between the CSF-GFAP or S100B levels and expanded disability status scales or spinal lesion length in NMO (r>0.9).

Conclusions: CSF-GFAP and S100B may be clinically useful biomarkers in NMO, and astrocytic damage is strongly suggested in the acute phase of NMO.


  • Funding: This work was supported by research grants from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval was provided by the Medical Ethics Committee of Tohoku University School of Medicine.

  • Patient consent: Obtained.

Responses to this article

Visit the full archive of podcasts for JNNP here >>

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of JNNP.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article