IL-6 in the Cerebrospinal Fluid Signals Disease Activity in Multiple Sclerosis

Mario Stampanoni Bassi, Ennio Iezzi, Jelena Drulovic, Tatjana Pekmezovic, Luana Gilio, Roberto Furlan, Annamaria Finardi, Girolama Alessandra Marfia, Francesco Sica, Diego Centonze, Fabio Buttari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Specific proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules could represent useful cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers to predict the clinical course of multiple sclerosis (MS). The proinflammatory molecule interleukin (IL)-6 has been investigated in the pathophysiology of MS and has been associated in previous smaller studies to increased disability and disease activity. Here, we wanted to further address IL-6 as a possible CSF biomarker of MS by investigating its detectability in a large cohort of 534 MS patients and in 103 individuals with other non-inflammatory neurological diseases. In these newly diagnosed patients, we also explored correlations between IL-6 detectability, MS phenotypes, and disease characteristics. We found that IL-6 was more frequently detectable in the CSF of MS patients compared with their control counterparts as significant differences emerged between patients with Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), Relapsing–remitting (RR), and secondary progressive and primary progressive MS compared to non-inflammatory controls. IL-6 was equally present in the CSF of all MS phenotypes. In RR MS patients, IL-6 detectability was found to signal clinically and/or radiologically defined disease activity, among all other clinical characteristics. Our results add further evidence that CSF proinflammatory cytokines could be useful for the identification of those MS patients who are prone to increased disease activity. In particular, IL-6 could represent an interesting prognostic biomarker of MS, as also demonstrated in other diseases where CSF IL-6 was found to identify patients with worse disease severity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jun 23 2020


  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • cytokines
  • interleukin-6
  • MS diagnosis
  • MS prognosis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • progressive
  • relapsing–remitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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