Open Access Open Badges Research

BAFF/APRIL system in pediatric OMS: relation to severity, neuroinflammation, and immunotherapy

Michael R Pranzatelli1*, Elizabeth D Tate1, Nathan R McGee1, Anna L Travelstead2, Jerry A Colliver3, Jayne M Ness4 and Richard M Ransohoff5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, National Pediatric Myoclonus Center and Neuroimmunology Laboratory, and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PO Box 19643, Springfield, IL 62794-9643, USA

2 Flow Cytometry Center, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PO Box 19626, Springfield, IL, 62794-9626, USA

3 Statistics and Research Consulting, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PO Box 19623, Springfield, IL, 62794-9623, USA

4 Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, 35233, USA

5 Cleveland Clinic Foundation, The Lerner Research Institute, Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research, Mail Code NC30, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2013, 10:10  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-10-10

Published: 16 January 2013



B-cell dysregulation has been implicated but not fully characterized in pediatric opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS), a neuroblastoma-associated neuroinflammatory disorder.


To assess the role of B-cell activating factor (BAFF) and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL), two critical B cell-modulating cytokines, as potential biomarkers of disease activity and treatment biomarkers in OMS.


Soluble BAFF and APRIL were measured in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum by ELISA in 433 children (296 OMS, 109 controls, 28 other inflammatory neurological disorders (OIND)). BAFF-R receptors on circulating CD19+ B cells were measured by flow cytometry. A blinded scorer rated motor severity on the OMS Evaluation Scale. Immunotherapies were evaluated cross-sectionally and longitudinally.


The mean CSF BAFF concentration, which was elevated in untreated OMS and OIND, correlated with OMS severity category (P = 0.006), and reduction by adrenocorticotropic hormone or corticotropin (ACTH) (−61%) or corticosteroids (−38%) was seen at each level of severity. In contrast, CSF APRIL was normal in OMS and OIND and unaffected by immunotherapy. When the entire OMS dataset was dichotomized into ‘high’ versus ‘normal’ CSF BAFF concentration, the phenotype of the high group included greater motor severity and number of CSF oligoclonal bands, and a higher concentration of inflammatory chemokines CXCL13 and CXCL10 in CSF and CXCL9 and CCL21 in serum. Serum APRIL was 6.7-fold higher in the intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg) group, whereas serum BAFF was 2.6-fold higher in the rituximab group. The frequency of B cell BAFF-R expression was similar in untreated and treated OMS. Longitudinal studies of CSF BAFF revealed a significant decline in ACTH-treated patients (with or without rituximab) (P < 0.0001). Longitudinal studies of serum APRIL showed a 2.9-fold increase after 1 to 2 g/kg IVIg monotherapy (P = 0.0003).


Striking distinctions in BAFF/APRIL signaling were found. OMS displayed heterogeneity in CSF BAFF expression, which met many but not all criteria as a potential biomarker of disease activity. We speculate that CSF BAFF may have more utility in a biomarker panel than as a stand-alone biomarker, and that the selective upregulation of both serum APRIL by IVIg and BAFF by rituximab, as well as downregulation of CSF BAFF by ACTH/steroids, may have utility as treatment biomarkers.

BAFF-R; Cerebrospinal fluid cytokines; Childhood neuroinflammatory disorders; Corticosteroids; Corticotropin; IVIg; Neuroblastoma; Opsoclonus-myoclonus; Paraneoplastic syndrome; Rituximab