- Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are increased in the CSF of patients with multiple sclerosis. Devic's neuromyelitis optica (DNO) is a demyelinating syndrome that involves the optic nerve and cervical cord but differs pathologically from multiple sclerosis. Therefore, we hypothesized that the type of inflammatory reaction that causes MMPs to be elevated in multiple sclerosis would be absent in patients with DNO. CSF was collected from 23 patients with relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, all of whom were experiencing acute symptoms, from seven patients with DNO, and from seven normal volunteers. Diagnoses were made according to current criteria on the basis of clinical manifestations, imaging results and CSF studies. IgG synthesis was increased in the CSF of multiple sclerosis patients but not in that of DNO patients. Zymography, reverse zymography and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) were used to measure gelatinase A (MMP-2), gelatinase B (MMP-9) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). Zymograms showed that multiple sclerosis patients had elevated MMP-9 compared with DNO patients and controls (P: < 0.05). TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 levels were similar in all three groups. We conclude that multiple sclerosis patients have higher MMP-9 levels in the CSF than patients with DNO, which supports the different pathological mechanisms of these diseases.