The frequency of CSF oligoclonal banding in multiple sclerosis increases with latitude
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Background: With the advent of MRI scanning, the value of lumbar puncture to assess oligoclonal band (OCB) statusfor the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is increasingly uncertain. One major issue is that the reported frequency of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-restricted oligoclonal banding for the diagnosis of MS varies considerably in different studies. In addition, the relationship between OCB positivity and disease outcome remains uncertain, as reported studies are generally too small to assess comparative disability outcomes with sufficient power. Methods: In order to further investigate variation of OCB positivity in patients with MS, we utilized MSBase, a longitudinal, Web-based collaborative MS outcomes registry following clinical cohorts in several continents and latitudes. We also assessed whether OCB positivity affects long-term disability outcome. Results: A total of 13,242 patient records were obtained from 37 MS specialist centres in 19 different countries. OCB status was documented in 4481 (34%) patients and 80% of these were OCB positive. The presence of OCB was associated with degree of latitude (p = 0.02). Furthermore, the outcome of patients negative for CSF-specific OCB was significantly better in comparison to the OCB positive patients, as assessed by Expanded Disability Status Scale change (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that latitude could explain some of the inconsistencies in OCB status reported in different populations. The study confirms that OCB positivity in MS is associated with a worse long-term prognosis.
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