Anti-aquaporin-4 titer is not predictive of disease course in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder: A multicenter cohort study

Remi A. Kessler, Maureen A. Mealy, Jorge Andres Jimenez-Arango, Chao Quan, Friedemann Paul, Reydmar López, Sarah Hopkins, Michael Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a rare autoimmune disease associated with a serological antibody to aquaporin-4 (AQP4) detectable in up to 80% of patients. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is one of the most popular methods of testing for anti-AQP4 antibodies that results with a titer in which < 3 Units/ml is negative, 3–5 is borderline and 5+ is positive. The value of the positive titer in predicting long term disease course is currently unknown. Methods This is a retrospective analysis of NMOSD patients from five centers around the world: Baltimore, USA, Philadelphia, USA, Shanghai, China, Berlin, Germany, and Medellin, Columbia, where ELISA titers on anti-AQP4 antibody testing is available. Inclusion criteria include a diagnosis of NMOSD and seropositive anti-AQP4 antibody test with titer = /> 3 Units/ml. Patients were stratified into three groups by titer: 3–30 Units/ml (low), 31–100 Units/ml (medium), and 101+ Units/ml (high). Demographic factors such as age at onset, race, and sex were collected along with clinical features such as annualized relapse rate, duration of disease, location of relapses, and treatment history. Results A total of 139 NMOSD patients met criteria for inclusion in this study, stratified into three groups by titer: 42 subjects with low titers of 3–30 Units/ml, 30 subjects with medium titers of 31–100 Units/ml and 67 subjects with high titers of 101 or greater ELISA Units/ml. The average age at onset, sex and race distribution were not significantly different among the groups. The number of patients untreated in each group was similar (< 25%) as was the average annualized relapse rate (0.591–0.821 relapses/year). With an average of 10 years follow up, the average disability level was not different among the three titer groups (EDSS range 3.03–3.48). The distribution of lesions, as well as their preventive treatment regimens did not differ significantly. Conclusion Beyond a positive/borderline/negative result, the titer of the anti-AQP4 antibody ELISA assay is not predictive in the disease course for patients with NMOSD. Low titer patients experience the same disease course as medium-titer and high-titer anti-AQP4 antibody patients with NMOSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-201
Number of pages4
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Aquaporin-4, NMO-IgG, anti-AQP4, titer
  • Devic's disease
  • Neuromyelitis optica
  • Relapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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