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Seroprevalence of Aquaporin-4-IgG in a Northern California Population Representative Cohort of Multiple Sclerosis

Using an aquaporin-4 (AQP4) M1-isoform-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a fixed transfected cell-based assay (CBA), we tested AQP4-IgG in a northern California population representative cohort of 3293 potential cases with multiple sclerosis (MS). Seropositive cases were tested additionally by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, a live transfected cell-based assay. Sera samples were available in 1040 cases; 7 yielded positive results, 4 by ELISA alone and 3 by both ELISA and CBA. Clinical data (episodes of optic neuritis and longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis [reported on at least 1 magnetic resonance imaging spine]) supported the alternative diagnosis of neuromyelitis optica for 2 patients as seropositive by both ELISA and CBA. These 2 patients alone tested positive by a fluorescence-activated cell-sorting assay. The diagnosis of MS was considered correct in the other 5 patients. Thus, 5 ELISA results and 1 fixed CBA result were false positive. Sensitive serological evaluation for AQP4-IgG in this large population-representative cohort of predominantly white non-Hispanic patients with MS reveals that neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder is rarely misdiagnosed as MS in contemporary US neurological practice (0.2%). The frequency of a false-positive result for ELISA and CBA in this MS cohort were 0.5% and 0.1%, respectively. This finding reflects the superior specificity of CBA and justifies caution in interpreting AQP4-IgG results obtained by ELISA.

Authors: Pittock SJ; Lennon VA; Bakshi N; Shen L; McKeon A; Quach H; Briggs FB; Bernstein AL; Schaefer CA; Barcellos LF

JAMA Neurol. 2014 Nov;71(11):1433-6.

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