Christian Blume, Matthias Florian Geiger, Lars Ove Brandenburg, Marguerite Müller, Verena Mainz, Johannes Kalder, Walid Albanna, Hans Clusmann, Christian Andreas Mueller

May 2020, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 986 - 993 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06298-7

First Online: 25 January 2020

Patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy have signs of blood spinal cord barrier disruption, and its magnitude correlates with myelopathy severity: a prospective comparative cohort study


The aim of this study is to detect the presence of blood spinal cord barrier (BSCB) disruption in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM).


In this prospective non-randomized controlled cohort study, 28 patients with DCM were prospectively included. All patients had indication for neurosurgical decompression. Furthermore, 38 controls with thoracic abdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) and indication for surgery were included. All patients underwent neurological examination. Regarding BSCB disruption and intrathecal immunoglobulin (Ig) concentrations, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood serum were examined for albumin, IgG, IgA and IgM. Quotients (Q) (CSF/serum) were standardized and calculated according to Reibers’ diagnostic criteria.


Patients and controls distinguished significantly in their clinical status. AlbuminQ, as expression of BSCB disruption, was significantly increased in the DCM patients compared to the controls. Quotients of IgG and IgA differed significantly between the groups as an expression of intrathecal diffusion. In the subgroup analysis of patients with mild/moderate clinical status of myelopathy and patients with severe clinical status, the disruption of the BSCB was significantly increased with clinical severity. Likewise, IgAQ and IgGQ presented increased quotients related to the clinical severity of myelopathy.


In this study, we detected an increased permeability and disruption of the BSCB in DCM patients. The severity of BSCB disruption and the diffusion of Ig are related to the clinical status in our patient cohort. Having documented this particular pathomechanism in patients with DCM, we suggest that this diagnostic tool cloud be an important addition to surgical decision making in the future.

Graphic abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.[graphic not available: see fulltext]

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