Antibodies to aquaporin-4 (AQP4-Ab), known as NMO-IgG, are a sensitive and specific marker for neuromyelitis optica (NMO).
To develop an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for AQP4-Ab, we expressed M23 isoform of human AQP4 in a baculovirus system, and used it as an antigen. We measured AQP4-Ab in the sera of 300 individuals: 64 with definite NMO, 31 with high-risk NMO, 105 with multiple sclerosis (MS), 57 with other neurological diseases (ONDs), and 43 healthy controls. We also performed longitudinal measurements of AQP4-Ab in 787 samples collected from 51 patients with definite or high-risk NMO.
AQP4-Abs were positive in 72% with definite NMO, 55% with high-risk NMO, and 4% with MS, but none of the OND patients and the healthy individuals. The longitudinal measurement showed AQP4-Ab levels correlating with disease activity. Out of 38 initially seropositive patients, 21 became seronegative under effective immunosuppressive therapy. During most relapses, the serum AQP4-Ab levels were either high or rising compared with the previous value, although rising AQP4-Ab levels did not always lead to acute exacerbation. Two of the 13 initially seronegative patients converted to seropositive following acute exacerbations.
We established an AQP4-Ab ELISA, which could be a potential monitoring tool of disease activity.
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