Oligoclonal bands

Oligoclonal bands in the CSF are IgG and are associated with multiple conditions, including: 

Oligoclonal bands should be looked for in both CSF and serum. There are 3 possible patterns:
  • systemic only response = identical bands in both serum and CSF 
  • intrathecal-systemic response = at least one clone identical in the CSF and serum AND at least one unique CSF clone 
  • intrathecal only response = bands in CSF only 
The table below summarises the links between the patterns and possible aetiologies:


With regard specifically to MS: 
  • characteristically MS causes oligoclonal bands in CSF but not in the serum 
  • however, a proportion of MS patients do have oligoclonal bands in both CSF and serum 
  • but, it is very rare for this bands to be identical, so identical oligoclonal bands in both CSF and serum should prompt the diagnosis of MS to be reconsidered 


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