Researchers found a correlation between serum levels of longitudinal interleukin (IL)-6 in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) with disease activity and brain volume, as published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology. They specifically found increased IL-6 serum levels during NMOSD relapses.

“To investigate whether IL-6 can be used as a marker for disease activity, we evaluated longitudinal IL-6 levels in NMOSD patients sera samples in different clinical states and correlated IL-6 levels with clinical and imaging data,” they wrote. “Our findings suggest IL-6 as a biomarker for evaluating disease activity (e.g., relapse versus remission) and outcome in NMOSD.”

The research team assessed a cohort of 26 patients with NMOSD and 16 healthy controls at a single center in Israel. Levels of IL-6 in sera were determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

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The results showed significantly increased levels of IL-6 during episodes of relapse compared with both controls and patients in the remission phase, and even higher IL-6 levels were observed in patients with severe relapses requiring hospitalization.

In addition, there was a negative correlation between IL-6 levels during relapse and remission and brain volume. Higher IL-6 levels correlated with higher Expanded Disability Status Scale scores. No correlations were found between IL-6 levels and age, disease duration, or sex.

The authors suggest that Il-6 could be an effective biomarker for assessing relapse vs remission as well as outcomes in NMOSD. However, further research with a larger cohort is needed, as well as investigations into the possible benefit of IL-6 receptor blockers as a therapy to reduce disability and prevent brain atrophy in these patients.


Haramati A, Richtman A, Zveik O, et al. IL-6 as a marker for NMOSD disease activity. J Neuroimmunol. Published online July 7, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2022.577925