Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is assumed to be immunologically distinct from multiple sclerosis (MS). Adequate studies about cytokines and chemokines in NMO have been lacking. Objective: To investigate the contribution of cytokines/chemokines in the pathogenesis of NMO. Methods: We measured 27 cytokines/chemokines and Th17 cell-associated cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 31 NMO, 29 MS and 18 other non-inflammatory neurological disorders patients. The serum levels of some cytokines/ chemokines were also measured. The correlations between clinical characteristics/laboratory findings and levels of cytokines/chemokines in NMO were examined. Results: The CSF levels of interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist, IL-6, IL-8, IL-13 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor were significantly increased in NMO, while IL-9, fibroblast growth factor-basic, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor, macrophage inflammatory protein-1-beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were increased in MS. IL-10 and interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10 were elevated in NMO and MS. In serum analyses, only the IL-6 level showed significant elevation in NMO. The CSF IL-6 level had a significant correlation with the CSF glial fibrillary acidic protein level and CSF cells, and a weak correlation with anti-aquaporin-4 antibody titers. Conclusions: Different immunological status and pathophysiologies exist between NMO and MS, and IL-6 may play important roles in the pathogenesis of NMO.
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