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Immune cell subtyping in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with neurological diseases

J Neurol. 2013 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Kowarik MC, Grummel V, Wemlinger S, Buck D, Weber MS, Berthele A, Hemmer B.
Publication Date: 2013

Abstract

The analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with the assessment of CSF cell counts and proteins is an important method in the diagnostic workup of neurological diseases. As an addition to this standard approach, we here present data on the distribution of CSF immune cell subsets in common neurological diseases, and provide reference values along with cases of rare neurological diseases. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, the CD4/CD8 ratio, B cells, plasmablasts, monocytes and NK cells in the CSF of 319 patients with inflammatory or non-inflammatory neurological diseases were analysed by seven-color flow cytometry. Diagnoses included headache, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Lyme neuroborreliosis, bacterial and viral meningitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, stroke, and CNS malignancies, among others. T cells were the predominant population in the CSF with CD4+ T cells being more prevalent than CD8+ T cells. Mostly in HIV patients, and under other conditions of immunosuppression, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were significantly altered and the CD4/CD8 ratio reduced. B cells and plasmablasts could hardly be detected in non-inflammatory diseases but were consistently elevated in inflammatory diseases. Monocytes were reduced in neuroinflammation and showed a negative correlation with B cells. NK cells were slightly elevated in neuroinflammation. Both monocytes and NK cells were slightly elevated in CNS malignancies. The analysis of immune cell subsets in the CSF adds valuable information to clinicians and is a promising tool for the differential diagnosis of neurological diseases.

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