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Ann Neurol. 2010 Sep;68(3):295-303. doi: 10.1002/ana.22128.

Anti-JC virus antibodies: implications for PML risk stratification.

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Biogen Idec, Inc., Cambridge MA, USA.



A study was undertaken to establish an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect JC virus (JCV)-specific antibodies in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and to evaluate its potential utility for identifying patients at higher or lower risk (ie, risk stratification) of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).


A 2-step assay for detecting and confirming the presence of anti-JCV antibodies in human serum and plasma was developed and demonstrated to be both sensitive and specific. ELISA cutpoints were statistically established using sera from >800 MS patients from natalizumab clinical studies. Subsequently, this assay was used to determine the presence of anti-JCV antibodies in natalizumab-treated PML patients where serum samples were collected 16-180 months prior to the diagnosis of PML.


In our evaluation of natalizumab-treated MS patients, 53.6% tested positive for anti-JCV antibodies, with a 95% confidence interval of 49.9 to 57.3%. The false-negative rate of the ELISA was calculated to be approximately 2.5%, with an upper 1-sided confidence limit of 4.4%. Notably, we observed anti-JCV antibodies in all 17 available pre-PML sera samples, which was significantly different from the 53.6% seropositivity observed in the overall MS study population (p < 0.0001).


This 2-step assay provides a means to classify MS patients as having detectable or not detectable levels of anti-JCV antibodies. The finding that all 17 of the pre-PML samples that were available tested seropositive, and none tested seronegative, warrants further research on the clinical utility of the anti-JCV antibody assay as a potential tool for stratifying MS patients for higher or lower risk of developing PML.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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