Test Catalog

Test ID: OLIG    
Oligoclonal Banding, Serum and Spinal Fluid

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis; especially useful in patients with equivocal clinical presentation and radiological findings

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is dependent on clinical, radiological, and laboratory findings. The detection of increased intrathecal immunoglobulin (Ig) synthesis is the basis for current diagnostic laboratory tests for MS. These tests include the measurement of kappa free light chains in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and CSF oligoclonal band (OCB) detection. Abnormal CSF OCB patterns have been reported in 70% to 80% of MS patients. 


Increased intrathecal Ig synthesis may occur in other inflammatory CSF diseases and, therefore this assay is not specific for MS.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

CSF Olig Bands Interpretation: <2 bands

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

The oligoclonal band assay detected 2 or more unique IgG bands in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This is a positive result.


CSF is used in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) by identifying increased intrathecal IgG synthesis qualitatively (oligoclonal bands). The presence of 2 or more unique CSF oligoclonal bands was reintroduced as one of the diagnostic criteria for MS in the 2017 revised McDonald criteria. These findings, however, are not specific for MS as CSF-specific IgG synthesis may also be found in patients with other neurologic diseases including infectious, inflammatory, cerebrovascular, and paraneoplastic disorders. Clinical correlation recommended.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

This test is not specific for multiple sclerosis.

Supportive Data

In a cohort of 1307 patients analyzed in 2018, where 159 had demyelinating disease, the Mayo Clinic oligoclonal banding test had a clinical sensitivity of 74% and clinical specificity of 89%, ROC AUC of 0.813, when 2 or more unique CSF bands are used as a cutoff for positive.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Andersson M, Alvarez-Cermeno J, Bernardi G, et al: Cerebrospinal fluid in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: a consensus report. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1994;57:897-902

2. Fortini AS, Sanders EL, Weinshenker BG, Katzmann JA: Cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal bands in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, isoelectric focusing with the IgG immunoblotting compared with high resolution agarose gel electrophoresis and cerebrospinal fluid IgG index. Am J Clin Pathol 2003:120:672-675

3. Thompson AJ, Banwell BL, Barkhof F, et al: Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: 2017 revisions of the McDonald criteria. Lancet Neurol 2018 Feb;17(2):162-173

4. Gurtner KM, Shosha E, Bryant SC, et al: CSF free light chain identification of demyelinating disease: comparison with oligoclonal banding and other CSF indexes. Clin Chem Lab Med 2018;56:1071-1080

5. Saadeh R, Pittock S, Bryant S, et al: CSF kappa Free Light Chains as a Potential Quantitative Alternative to Oligoclonal Bands in Multiple Sclerosis. Neurology 2019 April 09, 2019;92