Is pruritus an important indicator of NMO?

Is pruritus an indicator of aquaporin-positive neuromyelitis optica?

Netravathi M, Saini J, Mahadevan A, et al.

Mult Scler 2017; 23:810-817.



Recently, pruritus has been recognised as an important association with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD).


Among 57 consecutive patients with NMOSD, 15 (26.3% women) reported pruritus. All had aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibodies. The mean age was 34.5 ± 9.1 years, age at onset was 31.3 ± 11.0 years and the duration of illness was 3.9 ± 3.1 years. Pruritus preceded the neurological disturbances in all the patients. Predominant patients experienced pruritus in the cervical dermatome (66.7%) followed by cervicothoracic region (13.3%), trigeminal nerve (13.3%) and lumbar region (6.7%). Lesions extending from cervicomedullary junction up to the thoracic segment was the most common site of affection (40%) followed by cervicothoracic (26.7%), cervicomedullary junction to cervical cord (13.3%), cervical cord (6.7%) and thoracic segment (6.7%).


This report is one of the largest series reporting the close association of pruritus with onset of neurological symptoms in NMOSD. It highlights the importance of recognising this rare symptom which may help in making a correct diagnosis in a patient with suspected demyelinating disorder. In a patient with NMOSD, early treatment with immunomodulation during pruritus may prevent or minimise occurrence of neurological dysfunction.

Also see:

He Z, Ren M, Wang X, Guo Q, Qi X. Pruritus may be a common symptom related to neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders. Mult Scler Relat Disord 2017; 13:1-3.

Both references are included in the neurochecklist:

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO): clinical features

Abstract link 1

Abstract link 2

By Nivs55Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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