CSF sphingomyelin: a new biomarker of demyelination in the diagnosis and management of CIDP and GBS

Giovanna Capodivento, Chiara De Michelis, Marinella Carpo, Roberto Fancellu, Erika Schirinzi, Daniele Severi, Davide Visigalli, Diego Franciotta, Fiore Manganelli, Gabriele Siciliano, Alessandro Beronio, Elisabetta Capello, Paola Lanteri, Eduardo Nobile-Orazio, Angelo Schenone, Luana Benedetti, Lucilla Nobbio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To validate sphingomyelin (SM) dosage in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients affected by chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) as a reliably assessable biomarker.

METHODS: We prospectively enrolled 184 patients from six Italian referral centres, in whom CSF SM levels were quantified by a fluorescence-based assay optimised and patented in our laboratory.

RESULTS: We confirmed increased levels of SM in the CSF of patients affected by typical CIDP (n=35), atypical CIDP (n=18) and acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy, AIDP (n=12) compared with patients affected by non-demyelinating neurological diseases, used as controls (n=85) (p<0.0001, p=0.0065 and p<0.0001, respectively). In patients with CIDP classified for disease stage, SM was higher in active CIDP compared with both controls and stable CIDP (p<0.0001), applying for a selective tool to treatment tailoring or withdrawal. SM was also increased in AIDP compared with axonal GBS, discerning the demyelinating from axonal variant of the disease. SM did not correlate with CSF protein levels, stratifying patients independently from commonly used CSF indexes, and displaying high specificity to avoid potential misdiagnosis. Finally, SM correlated with the main clinical scores and some neurophysiological parameters in patients with CIDP and AIDP.

CONCLUSIONS: CSF SM is a diagnostic and staging wet biomarker for acquired demyelinating neuropathies and may effectively improve the management of patients affected by GBS and CIDP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 22 2021


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