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Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is a water channel protein that is most highly, but not exclusively, expressed in the central nervous system. In 2005 AQP4 was shown to be the antigenic target of neuromyelitis optica-immunoglobulin G (NMO-IgG, or AQP4-IgG), an antibody found specifically in patients with NMO and in formes frustes of NMO, such as longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM) or optic neuritis (ON). This discovery facilitated the clinical, pathological, and radiological distinction of NMO and the spectrum of NMO-related disorders from classical multiple sclerosis. In addition to its use as a diagnostic tool, AQP4-IgG predicts a high risk of relapse in patients with a clinically isolated syndrome of either LETM or ON. As disability in NMO is attack-related, early diagnosis and treatment are predicted to have a major effect on long-term disability. Thus, the importance of sensitive and specific assays to detect AQP4-IgG cannot be overstated. Both academic institutions and commercial companies have developed assays to identify AQP4-IgG in patients' sera or cerebrospinal fluid. Both AQP4 isoforms from different species have been used as the antigenic target in the form of frozen tissue sections in indirect immunofluorescence assays, partially purified protein for fluorescence immunoprecipitation assay, radioimmunoprecipita-tion assay or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or transfected into cells for cell based assays or flow cytometry. We carried out a systematic review of the literature reporting different methodologies used to identify AQP4-IgG, examine whether longitudinal AQP4-IgG titers predict relapses in seropositive patients, and attempt to establish a reasonable timeframe for retesting negative serum samples.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Neuroimmunol

Publication Date





290 - 303


antibody, aquaporin-4-immunoglobulin G, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, neuromyelitis optica-immunoglobulin G