Publications & Posters

Spinal Fluid Myeloid Microvesicles Predict Disease Course in Multiple Sclerosis

Annals of Neurology | July 3, 2021

Gelibter S, Pisa M, Croese T, Finardi A, Mandelli A, Sangalli F, Colombo B, Martinelli V, Comi G, Filippi M and Furlan R

Ann Neurol. 2021




In vivo measures of myeloid activity are promising biomarkers in multiple sclerosis. We previously demonstrated that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) myeloid microvesicles are markers of microglial/macrophage activity and neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis. Here, we aimed at investigating the diagnostic and prognostic value of myeloid microvesicles in a clinical setting.


Six hundred one patients discharged with a diagnosis of neuroinflammatory, neurodegenerative, or no neurological disease were enrolled. Myeloid microvesicles were measured with flow cytometry as isolectin B4–positive events in fresh CSF. Clinical, demographical, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were collected at diagnosis (all patients) and during follow-up (n = 176).


CSF myeloid microvesicles were elevated in neuroinflammatory patients compared to the neurodegenerative and control groups. In multiple sclerosis, microvesicles were higher in patients with MRI disease activity and their concentration increased along with the number of enhancing lesions (p < 0.0001, Jonckheere–Terpstra test). CSF myeloid microvesicles were also higher in patients with higher disease activity in the month and year preceding diagnosis. Microvesicles excellently discriminated between the relapsing–remitting and control groups (receiver operator characteristic curve, area under the curve = 0.939, p < 0.0001) and between radiologically isolated syndrome and unspecific brain lesions (0.942, p < 0.0001). Furthermore, microvesicles were independent predictors of prognosis for both the relapsing–remitting and progressive groups. Microvesicles independently predicted future disease activity in relapsing–remitting patients (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.967, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.147–3.372), correcting for prognostic factors of standard clinical use. In the progressive group, microvesicles were independent predictors of disability accrual (HR = 10.767, 95% CI = 1.335–86.812).


Our results confirm that CSF myeloid microvesicles are a clinically meaningful biomarker of neuroinflammation and microglial/macrophage activity in vivo. These findings may support a possible use in clinical practice during diagnostic workup and prognostic assessment.